It’s lonely in your atelier, isn’t it?
You want to hear the music play, you want to be part of life’s cabaret.
There are thousands of people like you who have a deep desire to do something they are passionate about.
To paint, to make a film, to write the Great American Novel, to be a successful artist.
So, you huddle over their kitchen table to work on your painting, your screenplay, your book.
Maybe you have space in your home or have rented a studio.
But you are alone.
And after hours of working on your art, you wonder, “Is this any good? Who else is doing what I’m doing? Does anyone care?” Who can you ask?
Your mom will love everything you do.
Your neighbor might lean over the fence and nod appreciatively but does he really know anything about what you do?
You need to talk to creative people who are passionate and excited about their work. You need people who care about what you are doing.
You need to get out and hear the music play.
What you really need
– American poet Charles Bukowski.
You need your tribe.
The members of your tribe are your allies on your remarkable journey.
Your tribe will lift you up, help you grow, recharge you, inspire you to go after your goals and pursue your dreams. To celebrate with you, and be in your corner when you need them.
The need to belong is one of the most fundamental human instincts.
Abraham Maslow, a noted psychologist, identified it as one of the five basic needs. We want to be part of a group and to feel loved and accepted by others.
That is, we want to be a member of a tribe.
But how do you make that happen?
Michelle Handelman, Elisabeth Subrin, moi, Sue Vaccaro, Mel England
I was part of this year’s Women & Fashion FilmFest, an organization whose mission is to give voice and to create opportunities for women and girls and invited to be on a panel with really smart people for Disruptive Filmmaking in NYC: a discussion on opportunities in NYC for independent filmmakers.
Really really smart people.
The kind of smart that made me feel like I didn’t study for the spelling test.
In the Q & A that followed the discussion, aspiring filmmakers did not ask about things like how to get money to make a film, where to find a crew to work with or should they go to film school.
Here is their big question, “How do I find my place? How do I find my tribe?”
My co panelists had great suggestions and personal stories about how they found their network of like minded creative spirits early in their careers.
Here are the top 5 ways to find your tribe that impressed me the most from that discussion:
1 Be In The Room
Put down the knitting,
The book and the broom.
Time for a holiday.
Life is Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret.
Go to that local film festival and meet the people doing cool and interesting things.
Congratulate the filmmakers and present yourself as a sincere fan of their work.
Sign up on their mailing list and follow them on social media.
Building a fan base is really important to a creative person. Believe me, they will remember you.
Chat up the other people in the room who are part of the event – the director, the actors, the tech crew, the musicians.
Artists work from project to project and who knows?
Yours may be the next one everyone wants to work on.
2 Connect With Your Council
This one I liked a lot.
Check out your local arts council.
I happen to run one so I can tell you that this is the quickest way to immerse yourself in local creativity.
Look for events that offer networking or an opportunity to share work with others like slide slams, open dress rehearsals or readings.
If there is an opportunity to volunteer for an event or activity, do it.
There is nothing more appealing than a pro active and generous artist. More on this in #3.
3 Give Something Away
I am on my way to an important meeting with a business owner.
She calls to say she needs to reschedule because it is her son’s 11th birthday and she is trying to get things ready for his party. Not another delay, I think to myself.
“No problem,” I say cheerfully. “His birthday is more important.”
I pick up a gift card in a video game store and drive over to her shop.
She is surprised to see me. “Didn’t we reschedule our meeting?
I smile and say, “Yes, but I’m here to say happy birthday to the birthday boy.”
His eyes grow wide as I hand him the gift card.
His mother says, “That was really nice of you. Thank you for doing that.”
I am thinking, “My meeting just got cancelled. Let me be generous.”
Several weeks later, I have forgotten all about it. But when I realize I need some extra help with a project, she immediately volunteers to do it. No questions asked.
The Rule of Reciprocity
What just happened? What happened is the Rule of Reciprocity in play.
The Rule of Reciprocity states that we human beings are internally wired— even driven — to repay debts of all kinds. If someone does something for you, you do something for them.
Sociologist Alvin Gouldner says that there is no human society on earth that does not follow the Rule of Reciprocity.
Reciprocity is a deep and powerful principle that, under the right circumstances, is all but impossible to resist.
So give and give often. Generously.
For extra impact, do something totally unexpected for someone.
Offer to create a short sizzle reel for a local dance group.
Or donate your services as a raffle gift for an upcoming fundraiser.
How about offering to create a unique one of kind award to be presented to someone?
When you start a relationship, deliver more than is expected.
And continue to give, before, during, and after every opportunity you can.
When you naturally apply the Rule of Reciprocity, the more you give, the more you will receive.
What can you give?
4 Share what you know
I know what you’re thinking: What? What could I talk about in front of a roomful of people?
Let’s think about the psychology of this for a minute.
You want to meet creative and remarkable people who are doing things you want to do, right?
Chances are people like that are constantly being approached by people looking for something – advice, a favor, conversation. How do you stand out from the rest?
Volunteer to sit on a panel discussion about what you are interested in.
By being the expert, you have subtly changed the dynamic of the room.
Now people will seek you out as someone they want to connect with because you are the one with knowledge and authority.
Reposition the focus.
Rock this opportunity and not only will the audience want to meet you, the other panelists will be lining up for your card.
Marketing guru Seth Godin says that you create your tribe by helping others to achieve their goals.
By connecting people you know who have common interests, by giving them information and resources that they need, and letting them know that you are there to help.
5 Own The Room
Come taste the wine,
Come hear the band.
Come blow your horn,
Right this way,
Your table’s waiting
OK, this is the secret sauce.
What will draw the people you want to meet to you like bees to honey?
Your rock star reputation? Your amazing sense of style? Your uber the top good looks?
If you possess this one thing, all of those other things don’t amount to a hill of beans.
Own this and the power of attraction is yours. Every single time.
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. – E.E. Cummings
Walk in the room knowing you have something remarkable to say.
Smile. Stand tall.
Let people see how comfortable you are in your own skin, in your own story, in your success.
There is nothing more attractive than a winner.
It’s a Wrap, people!
Let’s go over this fistful of fabulous advice in finding your tribe:
- Be in the room – Get out and meet the people you want to know where they gather
- Connect with your Council – Local arts councils exist to help local artists. If you are in Queens, come by and say hello.
- Give something away – Be generous in spirit. The more you give, the more you will receive.
- Share what you know – Become an instant authority by helping others achieve their goals.
- Own the room – Confidence is the most attractive superpower.
Start by admitting
From cradle to tomb
Isn’t that long a stay.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Only a Cabaret, old chum,
And I love a Cabaret!