Artisan Blog

How to Build a Referral Business

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How to Build a Referral Business

As a freelancer, doing excellent work is only one part of your job - you have to make sure that potential customers know about it. According to survey results, freelance creative professionals rate referrals, (particularly traditional word-of-mouth referrals) as their single most important source of new business. It pays to be deliberate about getting as many referrals as possible.

As you build your freelancing career, developing a strong referral network will ensure you have access to the best opportunities you need to grow, build your skills, and make more money. Here are a few techniques that freelancers use to get more referrals that generate a steady increase in business.

Build Your Personal Brand

As a freelancer, you must think of yourself as a small business that represents a certain attitude and system of values. According to brand-building coach Rajiv Nathan, it requires a deeper process of discovering who you are, what you do, and why it matters to you.

"It’s really about figuring out the core of what you believe in as a person and using that to structure how you think about yourself, talk about yourself, and the lifestyle you want to live," says Nathan. "What is your definition of success? How do you know when you’ve made it? The pursuit of answering those big questions is what leads to the development of everything that we’re doing."

Nathan advises thinking of your brand in terms of storytelling and constructing your own "Hero's Journey" outline to define who you are in a way that resonates with others.

“Look at everything that people gravitate towards – it is the story," Nathan says. "People want a hero, a villain, and a plot. That’s basically how life is constructed as well. You make yourself out to be the heroes of your own life. There are villains along the way, climaxes, and valleys. We’re telling you to architect your story. You’re playing a character in your own life – where do you want to take the story?"

The more intriguing your story, the easier it is for it to spread. If you have a clear and compelling brand, you can generate positive word of mouth and get much more mileage from social media, where concise and specific stories cut through the clutter.

Refine Your Elevator Pitch

Your elevator pitch is the distilled essence of your personal brand. It is a fifteen-second summation of the value you offer, one you could use if you met your ideal client anywhere and had only a small slice of time in which to make a memorable impression.

Michael Katz at Freelancers Union advises thinking of your elevator pitch, not in terms of being dazzling or unique, and instead in terms of filling a need that others may have. "Stop trying to impress the people you meet with fancy-pants phrases that shine brightly for a minute and then evaporate," Katz says. "Instead, just help others understand and remember what you do."

Taking this approach to describing yourself will make it easy for others to recommend your work to people who ask if they know someone who can fill a particular role or niche.

Ask

The easiest way to get referrals from existing customers or connections is to ask for them. When you've worked well with a client, you can ask that client directly - it will help their reputation to be associated with a skilled and diligent freelancer. You must be bold about soliciting referrals - when you believe in your work, you cannot be shy about making sure it's available to anyone who wants it.

However, for such a request to be successful, it is important to pick the right time and the right circumstances in which to pose it.

"Ideal times to ask for referrals is right after they compliment you, or right before a final deal closes," says freelance blogger Kayla Sloan. "If things are going well, build off of that momentum. Ask if they would refer you, or if they know of anyone who could benefit from your services. Knowing when to ask for referrals is just as important as asking for them."

It may also make sense to add a referral link to your website, social media, or email signature so that anyone inclined to give you a referral finds it easy to do so.

Be Grateful

In some cases, offer incentives for referrals that result in new business. According to USA Today, more than 50% of people are more likely to give referrals if there is a modest incentive involved, such as a gift card or some branded swag.

Whether or not you offer incentives, you should go out of your way to show your appreciation to those who give you referrals. When a client gives you a referral, give them public kudos on social media or send a private, personal email to give thanks. You may even want to invest in old-fashioned thank-you cards sent through the mail, which can really brighten a client's day.

"I don’t ever send a thank-you message expecting something in return from a client, prospect, or contact," says Cherese Cobb, a writer, multimedia artist, and "Thank You Marketing" evangelist. "I do it because it’s polite. It’s like spreading a confetti of kindness that can have a positive impact on others. And I know it works to build relationships, get referrals, and land more freelance writing jobs."

If you are a freelancer working hard to turn your talent into a business, Artisan Creative has many resources and connections, and we're here to help you. Contact us today to learn more. 

 

We hope you've enjoyed the 458th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

 


Actioning Your Goals

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Actioning Your Goals

Now that you’ve set your goals for the year and created your vision board, it’s important to devise a plan to stay on track and act on what you’ve set your mind to do.

In his book Triggers, Marshall Goldsmith says; “We are superior planners and inferior doers!” So in order to take action, we have to develop new habits, a razor-sharp focus, and be undeterred.

Below are some tools to help stay organized and focused and apply action to the plan at hand.

  1. Make the commitment! If they are truly important to you, then you owe it to yourself to commit to them. You set these goals for a reason.

  2. Keep to an organized calendar and protect your time. Great tools such as Toggle or Trello can be a huge benefit in managing your to-do list.

  3. Focus on the important matters. Urgent matters have a way of creeping in and taking over if you aren’t focused.

  4. Breakdown your to-do list into bite-size steps that need to happen daily or weekly for the goal to be accomplished.

  5. Add a timeline or date for accomplishing each step.

  6. Broadcast your goals and let your co-workers, friends, and family know so they can be your accountability partners.

  7. Ask for support where you need it. Delegating some tasks can open up your calendar to take care of the goals you have set.

  8. Know what you have to stop doing and be aware of your triggers, so you can adjust your mindset and offset any roadblocks. For example, let's say your plan is to set workout routine 3 times a week. If you already know that you have more energy in the mornings or mid-day than after work, set your routine and go to the gym to work or during lunch. The temptation to skip a workout after a long day may be too easy if you are already tired or hungry.

  9. Celebrate every win. Every small win is a step in the right direction. Don’t wait to accomplish the goal until you celebrate.

  10. Forgive. Every so often, we all stumble. It's ok. Just get back to your routine and the new habits you are trying to create.

Wishing you a great start to the new year.  If you are looking for a new career opportunity this year, or looking to hire your dream team, please get in touch.

We hope you enjoy the 457th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 


Creating Your Vision Board

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Creating Your Vision Board

Based on some great feedback and comments, we've decided to re-post our Vision Boarding blog with a few updates:

Every year, each member of the Artisan Creative a.team works on their New Year’s goals and creates a vision board. They present their boards at our first meeting in January. These boards are a collection of our short and long term goals, that include both personal and professional aspirations.

Presenting to the team develops accountability and enables the group to learn more about each other’s ambitions, dreams and commitments. Some people set a theme for their board or their year—others use inspirational quotes. They all have in common a shared use of imagery that inspires, tells a story and conveys a message to create a powerful visualization tool.

In addition to sharing our vision and goals at the onset of each new year, we review our boards mid-year, and share a recap at our year-end meeting. This creates a sense of accountability that helps keep us on track during the course of the year, which can have many twists and turns. This activity in one of our strongest team-building exercises, as it stays “evergreen”.

Here are some tips to create your vision board and get your new year off to a good start!

  1. Select words and images that inspire and are true to your core values.
  2. Create positivity and inspiration for yourself and others.
  3. Imagine the integrated life/work you want to live.
  4. You can either divide your board into sections for business and personal or mix the elements together throughout. The important point is to create an integrated board where your personal and professional aspirations are represented.
  5. Hang the board where you can re-visit it daily—read the inspirational messages out loud— and often! Mine is right in front of my desk, so I get to see it every time I look up from my computer.
  6. Share with others. Having an accountability partner will help you get closer to achieving your goals.

Tools needed:

  • A large poster board to give you plenty of space to visualize your year, yet small enough to hang on your wall. We use the 22 x 28 size available from Staples.
  • A good pair of scissors and a strong glue stick so the pictures stay on all year long.
  • Variety of magazines to look through and find those inspiring words and pictures.
  • (Optional) Markers/stickers to write on or embellish your board.
  • Patience and Creativity.
  • Time to reflect. I cut images and words throughout the month of December. Then one day between Christmas and New Years, I create the actual vision board. For some it’s easier to start with a theme and for others, the pictures and words shape the theme of the board. There is no right or wrong method, harness your creativity any way that works best for you.

Although electronic versions such as Pinterest also work, going old-school where you physically search for and cut out imagery and words from a magazine and decide where to place them, is in itself an opportunity to reflect and plan via a very tangible exercise.

What is your goal setting process?

Happy New Year!

We hope you've enjoyed the 456th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Staying Creative and Innovative

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Staying Creative and Innovative

"This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete."

― Steven Pressfield

As the holiday season approaches and we look ahead to a new year, it’s important to continue to remain creative and innovative. Often time in nature or away from the screen is exactly what is needed to generate new ideas. Creative professionals can't afford the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike. Hobbyists and dabblers can get to work when they have the occasional great idea. For a pro, the challenge isn’t to paint a masterpiece every 20 years, it is to keep working when generating ideas becomes a challenge, insecurity and impostor syndrome set in, and creativity becomes harder to come by.

Here are a few tips to use in 2018 to stay productive and do your best creative work whenever you're feeling challenged to generate new ideas.

Commit to a Daily Practice

The only way to consistently have good ideas is to consistently have a lot of bad ideas. That's why it's vital to have a daily creative practice that serves to clear out the psychological clutter.

The writer and investor James Altucher suggests writing ten ideas a day, every day - these ideas can be about anything, and they can be really out there, as long as you force yourself to keep coming up with them. Comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld sets a daily timer and forces himself to write until it runs out - most of this material doesn't make it anywhere near his set, it’s the practice that separates him from the amateurs at open mic nights.

750 Words is one of several web portals that's designed to reward a daily creative practice, regardless of the work quality. If you are an illustrator or designer, take up a similar practice of drawing one new sketch every day. This is the best way to keep your creative muscles limber and strong.

Join a Creative Community

It is important to be an active member of your local community of creative pros. This will give you a chance to share and test ideas, commiserate, and get a positive nudge when you need to keep going.

You can find groups of like-minded creative professionals on Meetup, or attend Creative Mornings talks in your city. If you don't live near a creative metropolis, there are plenty of supportive social networks online, too.

When you identify as part of a creative tribe, you may feel a lot more secure in your work, knowing that others must overcome the same challenges as you and you can ask for help when you need it.

Respect Your Own Process

It may sound like a dream job to conjure up creative inspiration and play with new ideas every day for a living, however, it can be a real challenge if you aren't in touch with your own mental, physical, and emotional rhythms.

To maximize your output, pay attention to your input. Take regular breaks, eat healthy and delicious food, and get plenty of sleep, even when you're on tight deadlines. It's worth making sacrifices to keep yourself in good condition.

To maximize your potential, pay attention to your own signals. Do you start strong in the mornings and taper off in the afternoons, or do you hit your stride in midday? Can you do deep, focused work for hours at a time, or do you prefer 55-minute work intervals staggered with five-minute water breaks?

As much as you can, let your work life move to your own inner rhythms. And mind the "taste gap;" sometimes, when you're disappointed in your own work, it means your taste is improving, and you just have to keep applying yourself to reach new creative heights you never imagined before.

Talk to the Experts

At Artisan, we work with the top creative professionals in the business, and we've seen talent handle challenges and still produce brilliant work on a consistent basis.

When you're inspired to take your career to the next level, contact Artisan Creative, and join some of the most prestigious creative talent around. We hope you enjoy the 455th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Holiday Prep for Freelancers

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Prep for Freelancers

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, everyone is gearing up to bring the final weeks to a close and prepare for the new year. For many, this includes vacations and paid time off. As a freelancer, your year-end to-dos may be a little different and can be just as rewarding.

Here are a few tips to help you celebrate your success as a creative freelancer during the holiday season.

Pick Up Extra Work

If you want to keep working during the holidays, you may still find work that needs doing. When full-time designers, developers, or other creative professionals are out of town, employers may need someone to pick up quick assignments that otherwise wouldn’t be turned around in time.

If you are ready, willing, and able to work during the holidays, make sure to let your important professional contacts know and update your social profile with your availability.

Additionally, this is a good opportunity to work on personal passion projects and expand your portfolio with new pieces.

Tend To Your Infrastructure

A successful freelancing career involves much more than client work. It requires managing and marketing, taking care of financial obligations, and making sure you have the infrastructure in place to get work, get paid, and stay connected.

The holiday slowdown provides an opportunity to take care of professional details that aren't often a part of your usual assignments.

For freelancers, paying taxes and doing other paperwork is often a challenge; why not tackle it during the slow days?

You can also take online classes to learn new professional skills, to be more marketable during the new year.

Now that your clients are on a break, this is an ideal time to handle all obligations of running your own business. Organizing your paper files, managing digital declutter or achieving inbox zero can be great projects to get ready for 2018.

Prepare for Down Time

Even in our super-connected, always-on culture, the business world tends to slow down during the holiday season. Starting on the week of Thanksgiving and continuing through the first week of January, offices take on a different rhythm and often focus on staff and family celebrations.

It is always wise to have plenty of money socked away for such dry spells. Lots of personal finance and accounting programs will automatically save a certain amount each month, or you may be able to set up automatic savings through your bank.

With a buffer in your bank account, you can spend your holiday season relaxing, not fretting about money.

Take a Break

If you can find regular work and manage your career, freelancing can give you the freedom to travel, spend time with your loved ones, and set your own schedule. If you are able to and have handled all your obligations, why not take off for a week or two? Time to reflect and unplug is a great opportunity to recharge and get the creative juices flowing.

Set an "away" message, letting everyone know you are taking some much-needed R&R. You can go entirely off the grid or put your hours on "emergency mode," in which you let it be known you are only available for very important matters.

Prepare for Next Year

Set your goals, create a vision board and plan ahead for a successful year ahead.This month leading up to the holidays can be a great opportunity to research companies you want to target.

If you haven't had time to update your resume, website, or online portfolio, block off some time and make sure you are showcasing all your current work in a manner that does it justice.

Give Thanks

The holiday season is an appropriate time to acknowledge the people who have supported your career.

Send a note to your clients, vendors, and colleagues, letting them know you've appreciated the opportunity to work with them and wish them the best in the new year. If you're a designer, you can send a special holiday card, extending your gratitude and ensuring that clients will keep you in mind.

Here at Artisan, we are grateful for another rich and rewarding year of working with top creative talent and clients. We look forward to celebrating continued success in 2018 and developing new ways to support you and your work.

 

Contact us today to learn more. We hope you enjoy the 452nd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Expressing Our Gratitude

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Expressing Our Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
                                                                                                 -William Arthur Ward

At Artisan Creative, we'd like to take a moment and say thank you to all who have touched our lives this past year.

We are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 21 years of Artisan Creative!
  • Grateful for our incredible, hard-working, and dedicated a.team, always bringing their a.game when working with our talent and clients.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who create, write and bring to market compelling work
  • Grateful for our clients and the opportunity to build relationships, grow their teams and share in their success.
  • Grateful for technology to allow us to be virtual, yet always connected with each other.
  • Grateful for the 7 dogs and 3 cats who add to our work life.
  • Grateful for the two babies who joined the Artisan family this year.
  • Grateful for our friends & families
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write and share insights in 450 issues of our weekly a.blog.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Margaret

  • Grateful that our son is living with us now and our family is complete.
  • Grateful for a job that is flexible and still challenging (in a good way) after 23 years.
  • Grateful for a family that is supportive and loving.

Laura

  • Grateful for family, good health, dogs, and friendship.
  • Grateful to have the chance to learn, progress and work in a job I love.
  • Grateful for the opportunities I've had and the chance to see the world.

Jen

  • I'm thankful to be able to celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family.
  • Grateful to have a healthy and happy baby girl join us this year and experience the holidays through her eyes.
  • Thankful for a wonderful support system both at home and at work that made the transition to being a new mom so pleasant.

Cammy

  • Grateful for our first home and the ability to work from the comforts of it everyday.
  • Grateful for my hard-working, supportive, and loving husband, who is adventurous and loves to get his hands dirty

Ana

  • I am grateful for the privilege of spending the last months of my mother's life at her side.
  • I am grateful for the love and support of my family and friends
  • I am grateful for Artisan for the privilege of working from home, where my job is more fun than work, and be part of a supportive, motivated and hardworking team.
  • I am grateful to live where food, shelter, and services are available and plentiful.

Stephanie

  • Grateful to work for a creative company and to work with team members that love people.

Regina

  • I'm grateful for such an incredible and supportive team to work for. I wake up knowing I GET to work with them and never feel like I HAVE to. It's rare to find such integrity and motivation in one's work life.
  • I'm grateful that I get to spend all my time with my dog Chewie. I never truly knew what a "man's best friend" actually felt like until I got to spend every waking moment with him.
  • I'm grateful that I found a balance in my life to take care of the sick ones in my family. So, so grateful for that.

Kimberley

  • I'm grateful for my wonderful spouse/teacher, family, and friends who are like family.
  • I'm grateful for the first responders and the outpouring of help to those who lost everything in the California North Bay fires.
  • I'm grateful to be back at Artisan working with such a dynamic team of creative, kind and devoted professionals!
  • I'm grateful to be able to make a difference in candidates' and clients' lives by bringing the right people together at the right time.

Jamie

  • To have facilitated Why Stack workshops with dynamic learners from around the world.
  • To have celebrated our parent’s 83rd and 85th birthdays together as a family.
  • To always be working with people who share similar values founded on trust and respect.

Katty

  • Grateful to celebrate 23 years of marriage.
  • Grateful for my amazing a.team. The most dedicated, intelligent and fun group I have had the pleasure to work with.
  • Grateful for health, family and friends
  • Grateful for the opportunity to travel and see the world.


The Productive Commute

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Productive Commute

Although remote and at-home work is gaining acceptance, most jobs still require some on-site face-time. That means you'll be spending at least some of your professional life in transit. As housing costs continue to rise and many companies relocate, you may be in for a long commute.

However a commute does not have to be wasted time and can become nourishing and productive. If you can make it a point to stay engaged, cultivate useful and revitalizing habits, you may find yourself looking forward to rush hour!

Here are a few things you can try when you want to get more out of your commute.

1. Conference Calls, Meetings, and Check-ins

If you take public transport to work, this can be the perfect place to be a "fly on the wall" for a call that someone else leads. This can also be great opportunity to check in with key clients, colleagues, or friends, provided you can still have a good reception and your environment isn’t too noisy.

2. Podcasts

Since Apple’s release of the iPod more than fifteen years ago, the growth of podcasting as a medium has exploded. Compared to radio, the barrier for entry is practically nonexistent, which has unleashed a wild variety of shows. Podcasting has been embraced by journalists and has reignited the careers of rebellious comedians who do their best work uncensored. The most popular podcasts now have devoted audiences in the millions.

There are so many podcasts to explore that it's easy to get lost. If you're looking for places to start, you can get creative and cerebral inspiration from TED or Creative Mornings, hear interviews with leading entrepreneurs on The Knowledge Project and The James Altucher Show, or dive into the more narrative-based shows from the Radiotopia network, which will reacquaint you with the mystery and wonder of life.

3. Audiobooks

Reading books remains one of the most reliable ways to become a stronger thinker and speaker. If you drive, you can find more wisdom, heroism, romance, humor, and insight in audiobooks than you could possibly absorb in one lifetime.

The personal growth coach Duff McDuffee provides a plan for "reading" quite a lot in the 1.5-2 hours a day many of us spend commuting. In the brilliant So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, the author Gabriel Zaid suggests a strategy for choosing the right books to cultivate a rich awareness of the world.

4. Meditation

A commute may be the most unlikely place to get in touch with your innerself and the true nature of reality. However, now that meditation is in vogue among leaders in tech, media, and the creative industry, more and more people are practicing some form of mental relaxation on the go, including in traffic.

In your commute, you're likely to face frustrations, distractions, and emotional highs and lows. This makes it the perfect place to practice mindfulness.

You will need to stay focused on the journey, so you can't close your eyes and go into a trance. Today’s cutting-edge meditation instructors Vincent and Emily Horn have devised a practice called "There Is Driving," a simple "noting" practice you can use to train your attention as part of your everyday activities.

5. Train Your Brain

The human mind is designed to be stimulated, in youth and throughout life. If you spend less time "zoning out" and more time engaged in challenging your mental reflexes, you will do wonders for your creativity, productivity, and mental health, now and into older age.

You can use your commute to learn a new language, or work through riddles and puzzles.

If you typically drive give mass transit a try if its available in your city - you may be amazed at how much a train or bus ride can shift your perspective and what great ideas arise when you come in closer contact with your community. If you can't take the train, vary your route to work - take side streets instead of freeways, or allow some extra time to take the scenic route. Another option is to walk or ride a bike to work when possible and get some exercise in the meantime too!

See if you can devise your own ways to make sure your commute is productive.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that a creative life is one of the most rewarding ones you can pursue. Contact us today to leverage our resources and experiences and get more from your career and your life.  We hope you enjoy the 449th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Practicing Mindfulness At Work

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Practicing Mindfulness At Work

 

Over the centuries, mindfulness practice has spread from ancient Buddhist traditions, into today’s easy to access TED Talks, and flowing to corporate boardrooms from New York to Los Angeles. Although it has become increasingly popular in the corporate world, mindfulness isn't just another fad or productivity hack - it prescribes a fresh way of looking at the world, noticing what is going on behind our assumptions and narratives, and feeling what it means to truly be in the moment.

Several cutting-edge companies have set aside meditation rooms, or provide midday breaks for quiet contemplation. Even if you don't work at one of these companies, you can apply the principles of mindfulness to be more present with your work, your life, and people around you.

Here are a few steps for integrating mindfulness into your day.

1. Sit Quietly

It doesn't matter if you do this for thirty minutes or three. If you don't have a quiet space in your workplace, you can sit at your desk or take a quick walk around the block. Just claim a small slice of time, whatever you can manage, in which you can expect to be relatively undisturbed.

When you have found your spot, sit still, with your hands in your lap or at your sides and close your eyes.

2. Focus on Your Breath

After you've taken a few moments to calm yourself, gradually bring attention to your breath. Ride each breath as it travels through your nose and fills your lungs. Rest your awareness on the pause between the in-breath and out-breath. Then slowly release. Give your full attention to the process of breathing.

As soon as you notice a thought, acknowledge it - say to yourself, "thinking" - and return your attention to the breath. Do this as many times as necessary until the session is over.

When you accept your thoughts and then let them go on their way, you reclaim some of the power and energy you might otherwise invest in worrying over them. Bring all that focus back to the present moment and the experience you are having, here and now.

3. Apply Mindfulness on the Go

There's a reason that sitting is called "practice." You're practicing an approach to everything else in your life. When you practice in this way, you prepare yourself for the harder work of staying present, focusing your attention, and maintaining equanimity in even the most taxing professional situations.

When you are in a meeting, give your full attention to the presentation and presenter. When you are working on a project, just do that. When you notice sights or sounds in the room, or distractions competing for your attention, acknowledge them, accept them, and let them go, releasing any thoughts you may have about them. Return your attention to the task at hand.

4. Keep Learning and Practicing

Mindfulness is a journey, not a destination, and you may not see major results after one or two sessions. If you make mindfulness practice a part of your daily routine, it will gradually shift your attitude toward your work and yourself.

In the book Mindfulness on the Go, Jan Chozen Bays distills centuries of contemplative wisdom into simple exercises you can try anywhere. (A companion set of flashcards is available, too.) Meditate.io is an online community built around sharing meditation practice with professionals in creative and technical professions, with guided exercises for mindfully attending meetings, taking breaks, and checking email.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that when you find meaning in your work, you find meaning in your life, and vice versa.  Contact us today to discover how we can help. We hope you enjoy the 444th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 


4 Tips for Better Brainstorming

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

 


While generating fresh ideas requires limber and liberated thought, there is more to consider than the standard group brainstorming techniques.

The most productive and galvanizing idea generating sessions are guided by qualified facilitators applying best practices under the right conditions. According to one study, brainstorming sessions that meet these guidelines can generate more than four times the number of useful ideas than those that don't.

While there's no substitute for a group brainstorming session led by a trained professional, if you know and apply the following best practices, you will likely get more out of your brainstorming session, making it a more satisfying experience for your group and a more fruitful pursuit for an organization.

Establish Ground Rules

Make sure all participants understand what a brainstorming session involves, and don’t get caught up in problem solving. Add ground rules that best reflect your group and culture and set expectations ahead of time.

Set the Setting

Make sure all participants have the opportunity to plan ahead for the session and think about the key questions and issues in advance. Allow space for solo thinking ahead of time to enable members to contribute freely, avoid groupthink and generate a larger number of ideas.

The session itself should take place in a quiet and comfortable place, free of the normal workday distractions. Some organizations rent off-site rooms (such as those available in co-working spaces). A change of scenery may help shake up established assumptions and patterns of thought.

Ask the Right Questions

To be useful, brainstorming must be more than a group of people talking. To borrow from Proust, the right questions, games, and structure can inspire participants to ideate "like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines."

This excellent piece offers a menu of structured brainstorming exercises that may help generate more productive thinking and discussion. The most important factor for success is to build the session around a powerful central question. According to the research of Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the brightest thinking is prompted by the strongest questions. Create a central question or theme that best describes the issue you are brainstorming around.

Write First, Talk Second

In a piece for Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield recommends that much of the mental action take place before the group convenes. All participants submit their ideas in advance, which can then be made anonymous and put to a group vote. This mitigates the influence of more dominant and vocal personalities, empowering everyone to contribute more and establishing a "meritocracy of ideas."

At the least, the session should be set up and run in such a way that constructive criticism is encouraged and the loudest voices don't dominate the exchange. This requires rigorous adherence to time limits and other rules, and a pervasive atmosphere of mutual respect. This can be a delicate balance to establish and maintain.

Each organization is different. Its particular decision-making criteria will factor into whether or not actionable ideas emerge from brainstorming. Thus, leading a productive brainstorming session can take some trial and error, but the investment will pay off in greater satisfaction, innovation, and organizational cohesion.

 

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 436th issue of our weekly a.blog.



The Art of Negotiation

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


No matter where you are in your career or in the professional world, negotiation is one of the most crucial skills you can hone. Being a savvy negotiator isn't just about asking for a raise or a higher salary - it is necessary for achieving your goals across all aspects of business and life.

Negotiation is addressed in thousands of business books and seminars. As creative recruiters, we use and observe these skills every day, and we have seen some consistent patterns that separate effective negotiators from the rest.

The CEO and entrepreneur MaryEllen Tribby boils down these commonalities into seven key principles. Here, we've further distilled her wisdom - which is consistent with the timeless laws of negotiating - and put it in a broader context.

Remember these seven core ideas, and you too, can get what you want from highly charged negotiations.

1. Visualize Your Desired Outcome

If you have a clear and concrete idea of what you want to get out of a negotiation, you can channel all of your efforts and energies toward that end. Before you take your seat, know what you want, and consider in vivid detail what it will look, sound, and feel like to get it.

2. Do Generous Research

The more you are focused on the other party, the more leverage you will have. Before you converse, find out everything you can about your negotiation partner. Understand what the other person wants to hear, and you can explain your own needs in a way that will resonate powerfully.

3. Listen Closely, and Listen A Lot

High-powered negotiations will put your active listening skills to the test. Rather than "waiting to talk," stay focused on what the other party is communicating. Ask follow-up questions until everything is crystal clear. This will let them know you are listening and that you value their time and thoughts and foster an atmosphere of mutual respect.

4. Don't Sell Yourself Short (Or Too High)

Take full objective stock of your own abilities, experience, and everything you bring to the table. You've done your homework and you deserve a fair deal, and you respect your own limitations and understand how you are perceived.

5. Stay Positive and Optimistic

If you believe you can and will get what you want, you are more likely to get it - or something better! Most people have a built-in negativity bias - to correct for this, stay upbeat and keep your eyes on the prize. Your infectious attitude may make the other party feel more generous.

6. Business, Never Personal

Keep your ego and emotions safely out of the negotiation, and think of it from the perspective of an outside observer who just wants you to get the best possible deal. Getting less than you want out of a negotiation is simply an opportunity to rethink your approach and be more deliberate and effective in the future.

7. Stay Humble

The best negotiation is one in which both parties get what they want. Resist the urge to gloat, to take advantage, or to take more than you need. You must live with your reputation, and those who remember you as an effective and fair negotiator will be powerful allies in the future.

Building your negotiation skills is a lifelong pursuit. Artisan Creative is here to help you get more in all areas of your professional life. Contact us today to learn more.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 434th issue of our weekly a.blog.



Search

Recent Posts


Tags


Archive