In my last post, I talked a little bit about why I picked Solve as my business platform. As an art consultant for businesses and private clients, one of the most crucial elements of my work is recognizing that a good lead can come from anywhere at anytime, like say on an express train from Warsaw to Krakow in Poland. In this post, I want to show more specifically how Solve functionality has proven invaluable already by allowing me to leverage my contact database quickly, build on-the-fly editable “proposal” blogs for potential clients, and create my network in Krakow starting with some small talk on an intercity train.
Solve contact list has the type of flexibility I need to add seemingly random or isolated bits of data (like that a certain art collector LOVES pâté) as well as more standard searchable fields so that I get a bigger picture of who people are. I’m not in the business of selling to anonymous people. I consider each contact in a deal as an individual, as well as a representative of their business. And though many clients work for corporations, they are all individual people with diverse interests (and temperaments) who may be interested in commissioning contemporary art. With this many different type of contacts, entering the field determining what information is the most important can be tricky, but Solve has so far been up to the task.
On the express train to Krakow, I sat next to a Polish businessman on his way home for the holiday. Though he worked in Warsaw, he was born and raised in Krakow. He began telling me about the fantastic cultural scene there, summing it up with an old Krakovian saying: “In Warsaw, history passes in seconds, in Krakow, history passes in centuries.” I told him about Halfslant, and about my interest in Krakow as an up-and-coming hot spot for contemporary art. He wanted to hear more and talked about the Krakovian love for theatre and performing arts. We exchanged business cards and I promised to send him an email. “English lessons are expensive in Warsaw”, he explained. The one key bit of information that proved more fruitful than his strong connection into one of the biggest corporations in Poland was his pride in Krakow’s heritage and culture.
That night, before I wrote to him, I did a series of tasks in Solve to prepare myself for some meetings. I created a new contact from the businessman’s card, and made notes of some of the comments he had made that pertained to my business in my project blog called “Prospects in Krakow”. I flipped through my contacts tagged “artist” “eastern Europe” and emailed about a dozen artists in our portfolio asking if any were interested in working in Poland. In Solve, I’ve configured the artist contact profiles to act as mini-portfolios with image thumbnails of their work and website links to their online content. I was able to quickly determine which artists would be best suited for work in Krakow and more specifically in what types of spaces or events.
Then picking three artists and one potential alternative space in Krakow, I built an example proposal blog with sample deadlines, thumbnails, event times etc. The blog was a way to “show” him and was far more clear than anything I could write up (especially in English). I published it and sent the link along with the promised email to my friend on the train. We exchanged some holiday wishes and I left it at that.
Two days later, after meeting with two different cold leads that didn’t pan out, I got a cc’d email from him putting me in direct contact with the director of the Dom Kultury (Cultural center of Krakow). “Old college buddies”, he later said. The example proposal blog has since been completely revamped and changed, but is now tagged “won”, and will represent my first project in Krakow.