There is a publishing house that I’ve had my eyes on for a few years now, which puts out several athletic magazine titles I want to be working with.

I had e-mailed in some samples of my work – no response.

Maybe a few months later I sent in another e-mail – no response.

Then probably a few months later I sent in another e-mail – no response.

I had a few choices here. I could assume the client didn’t like my work and stop sending in pitches. I could continue doing the same thing I was doing (which was obviously not getting me anywhere). Or I could change my approach.

Deciding on the latter of the options, I just picked up the phone and called the Photo Editor of the publishing house. I talked about what they are looking for and asked if he would be interested in seeing more samples of my works. He provided me with his direct e-mail and I fired off some relevant images.

Now I had another choice. I could sit and wait for him to get back to me. Or I could continue by contacting him again in a few weeks to follow up.

That is precisely what I did. A few weeks later I picked up the phone again. He told me that my work and style fit in with several of the publications he works on and he expects to be able to get me work shortly.

The question is (and the point of this article) what would have happened had I not made those phone calls? Not just the first one – but the second one as well. How long would I have waited for the opportunity to do work with them? Would I have ever gotten a response at all?

This is the difference between those who are proactive in their marketing versus those who are reactive – and this applies directly to talents looking to develop their careers.

The proactive talent will seek out opportunities and persistently take the extra step to illustrate their commitment and determination to the work they are striving to get. Whereas the reactive talent will often wait to see what opportunities come to them to react to and many times get frustrated when it is less than they anticipated.

The proactive talent will have foresight, set goals and milestones to achieve. The reactive talent will take things as they happen.

The proactive talent will stay atop industry news and trends – often before they happen. The reactive talent will hear about things second-hand.

The proactive talent will consistently forge new relationships. The reactive talent will stick to their own circle.

The proactive talent will take risks. The reactive talent tends to play it safe.

In our industry – when there is such a high level of competition – can you afford to only react to what happens knowing that others are and will be actively campaigning for work?

James Patrick
Instagram @jpatrickphoto
Twitter @jpphotography