1000 True Fans
Kevin Kelly has written about how in order to be successful at your art, you only need 1000 True Fans. He defines “True Fans” as people who adore your work. They “get it.” They promote you to their friends, they purchase the hardcover editions of your books and they’ll drive 200 miles to see you speak/perform. He claims that the revenue generated by their loyalty–$100,000 per year, by his calculations–is enough to sustain most people.
While I aim for higher than 1000, I like the point that Kelly makes: quality is more important that quantity. When I first started going to networking events (I wasn’t even sure what they were until last year), I thought the idea was to meet as many people as I could, pressing my business card into their hands at the end of our two-minute conversation. I thought the business card would do my work for me.
I’ve since realized that networking is only powerful when you forge a strong connection. It may be personal and it may be professional, but for someone to bookmark you and consider you a future referral or service they’d use themselves, they have to be impacted. They have to like you or what you do and that takes longer than two minutes. Preferably, they even love what you do.
To maximize your time and energy, consider:
1) When you meet people who may be helpful to you or interested in what you do, focus on getting into The Zone. Find an intersection where you speak the same language and recognize in each other a kindred spirit. Then play there. Develop your connection. If you can tell it isn’t there, move on.
2) You can’t be all things to all people. So be yourself. Amplify who you are, instead of being who you think people might like. In Kevin’s words: “Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.”
“Most people would like the world to stay just as it is.
Most people are afraid.
Most people aren’t curious.
You’re not going to be able to grow your career or your business or feed the tribe by going after most people.”
In short, don’t worry about Most People. Focus on the ones who will love and support what you do. “What you do” is being you. Find the deepest, most authentic and brave expression of yourself, magnify it and that’s how you find at least 1000 True Fans.