4 Tips to Rock Your Career

It’s amazing how our experiences of the past teach us priceless lessons we can use in the present, to guide us into a prosperous future.  Social Media and Marketing expert, Lisa Kalner Williams did just that.  Learn the four important rules she followed in the past, that continue to guide her to bigger and better achievements today.  Thanks, Lisa!

In the 1990s, I spent most of my non-working hours as a publisher/writer/editor/marketer/etc. for a music fanzine that did pretty well for itself. How did I get this one-woman-rock-‘n’-roll-machine to succeed at a time when seemingly every music lover did a zine? I contribute my success to the following rules that I set for myself then, and continue to use to this day as a solo entrepreneur:

When you see a chance, take it.

When The Smashing Pumpkins came to play at the University of Albany’s gymnasium in 1994, the band was riding high with their multi-platinum album Siamese Dream. I was a graduate student at Albany then and lived across the street from the university. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I walk over to the gym, find the band, and see if they’d give me an interview?” I put on my Tretorns and off I went. About fifteen minutes later, I was in the band’s dressing room writing down drummer Jimmy Chamberlain’s musings on European travel. My zine only sold about 50 copies per issue back then — yet with some real hustle, I got an interview with one of the top bands in the country. What would have happened if I said to myself, “Oh, my zine’s not big enough to get that interview” or “I don’t know the right people to get the band to say yes?” I *had* to believe that I was big enough and that I was one of the right people.

Lead with your brain.

Sadly, most of the world still thinks that women who are passionate about rock music are either groupies or girlfriends of musicians. I refused to play into that notion when I conducted interviews. I met some of my favorite bands with my zine. But I never, ever let them know that I was a “fan girl.” That would’ve immediately squashed any chance of having the bands view me as a professional. That’s not to say that I wasn’t excited when I got one-on-one time with some of my musical idols. But there was a time and place to let it show — in my case, I let out my squeals when I hung up the phone or got back in my car after an interview.

Copycats get ignored.

Don’t set your sights on being a “female” version of someone who’s already well-known in your field. Just be your unique you. My zine shied away from the standard “When’s the next album coming out?” type questions.  My thinking behind this was twofold. First, I knew that bands were sick of answering those questions. Second, my fan base also read other zines and larger magazines like Spin and Rolling Stone — where those questions would most likely already be answered. Why be a retread? Starting with Issue 9, I geared each rock interview toward a particular theme. These themed Q&As seemed to better engage my interview subjects. For the food issue, I brought a well-known French DJ samples of French bread and French toast for his thoughts on these foods’ authenticity. He heartily thanked me for not asking him the same questions that he’d been forced to answer during that press tour.

Rejection isn’t personal.

I am proud that I scored some pretty great interview subjects — and am unashamed to say that I got rejected by a rock band here and there during my zine’s fifteen issues. Often I was told that my zine didn’t have a large enough circulation for the artist’s “threshold,” or my zine didn’t have a bar code (which enabled it to be sold in large stores like Barnes & Noble), or the artist needed to do publicity in other geographic areas. After hearing these reasons repeated a few times, I realized that the decision for artists to pass me by was purely business. As a businesswoman, you surely make similar decisions about who you work with – it’s key to keep that in mind when the tables are turned.

Your mosh pit days might be behind you too, but you can certainly make use of these ideas and anecdotes to turn up the volume of your entrepreneurial spirit.

Lisa Kalner Williams is the founder of Sierra Tierra Marketing, a social media education and consulting firm that helps businesses grow.

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