Street Lessons (Part Two)

“I can imagine the moment, breaking out through the silence. All the things that we both might say: come talk to me.” ~ Peter Gabriel

Here you are. You’ve mustered the courage and practiced your craft, you have committed yourself to your road … now what? Let’s look to the street.

2) Develop Relationships Out on my little stretch of sidewalk, I got to know the beat cops. They were suspicious of me at first, of course, because what I was doing was outside the norm, and no one likes to have their ‘norm’ changed. But after a short time watching me perform, they grew to trust me, and enjoy seeing me there. I learned their names, and used them. I always took a moment to say hello and ask how their day was. (AND I listened to their response!) They watched my back, their presence and our relationship assured the people passing by that I was ‘legitimate’.

I got to know the local shops, restaurants and bars. I could recommend specific places to anyone that had an inquiry. (“What’s good around here to eat?”) More specifically, I got to know the servers and managers of the surrounding restaurants. I knew what promotions were being run, when ‘half-price wing night’ was, which restaurants were less likely to have children present. I knew when the best bartenders were working, and I could point an audience member in their direction. This resulted in the bartenders, servers and managers recommending me to their patrons. During the hot summer months, some restaurants would send me out water. Often, a manager would come out as I was packing up and offer me a free dinner for helping drive traffic his way.

I listened to my audience. If they said something funny or got a laugh on their own, I laughed along, sometimes tipping them and writing down their joke. (I learned this by watching comedian George Wallace work. is site down . One night at the Comedy Zone he got ‘heckled’ by a fairly funny line. Before countering, George took a notebook out of his pocket and wrote down the line, right there on stage. The audience laughed at that for a solid three minutes.) My audiences have built some of my patter for me.

Busking

This cultivation of relationships led to a harvest of good paying corporate jobs and trade shows, where I continued to build relationships. This is a secret that is known in the business world as ‘networking’. Okay, so not such a huge secret, but it’s a word that’s tossed around often without the understanding of how powerful a tool it really is. The old saying “It’s who you know” is true: success is as much about relationships as it is about skill.

Potential clients, partners and bosses want to work with people who are easy to deal with: people who know how to listen and cultivate working relationships. From such cultivation does leadership take root. People will follow those that they trust – communication and ease in building relationships will put you out in front with them.

Be genuine. This is not a time to put on a character. You are a fascinating, interesting person – share who you are, really. Have you met your neighbors? Do you say hello to the people you see in the halls, or in your building? Get out there and get to know people!

We live in an age where we may have hundreds, even thousands of ‘virtual’ friends online via Twitter and Facebook, but when is the last time you had a face to face with a casual friend? Build, build! We are surrounded by human beings with loads of the same kinds of experiences, fears and dreams. At the very least, you’ll make some new friends. norway You could do a lot worse than being surrounded by people who want to be around you.

You’ve taken your first steps on your road. Don’t Stop There.

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