One of the most fascinating of Hollywood legends is the discovery of film actress Lana Turner at the soda fountain in Schwab’s drugstore in Hollywood, by director Mervyn Le Roy in 1936.
Wikipedia tells a different story, saying that Turner was discovered by The Hollywood Reporter publisher, William Wilkerson, not at Schwab’s, but at the Top Hat Café.
Nevertheless, this legendary story gave rise to the American myth that “anybody can be discovered, anyone can be successful because of a stroke of luck or the right connections.”
However, Turner’s online biography states: “She wasn’t found at a drugstore counter like some would have you believe, but that legend persists. She pounded the pavement as other would-be actresses have done, are doing, and will continue to do in search of movie roles.”
She wasn’t even born with the name Lana Turner; her given name was Julia Jean Mildred Francis Turner (try putting that on a movie poster).
Turner, one of the greatest Hollywood beauties, had a film career that spanned 48 years.
Why all this interest in Lana Turner?
I think it’s the confluence of the Academy Awards show on Sunday night and a meeting I had with a client last week.
At the Oscars, I was inspired by the hard work and dedication of the many nominees who had worked, sometimes for decades, before being recognized for their excellence.
My client, who is a brilliant consultant with many professional credentials and accolades, also inspires me. She is smart, committed, and hard working.
But I think she might be working a little too hard on hoping to be discovered by the right person.
For her, this means making connections with influential people who — she hopes — will refer her to new clients.
It’s wonderful to be referred by others who are more established, successful, and visible. And this approach to marketing can sometimes work when played as a long game.
But if you put most of your attention on these hoped-for referrals, you may not spend enough time connecting directly with prospective clients right now.
Pounding the pavement is certainly not romantic, but it’s infinitely more practical.
Advice to my client:
Keep an eye out for long-term referral partners, but put most of your effort into connecting with, speaking to, and meeting with those who can buy your professional services today.
P.S. This is a paraphrase of a quote by Lana Turner:
“If you don’t approach clients, you’re called aloof, if you do, you’re a hustler. If you don’t talk, you’re dumb. If you do talk you’re aggressive. Pardon me while I update my website.”
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