by Bri Castellini
As many of you know firsthand, I send and receive a lot of emails. Over the past year and a half at Stareable, I’ve learned a lot about everything from how to phrase and structure unsolicited requests for advice or promotion as well as the appropriate boundaries to set when planning a call or video chat with a relative stranger. I’ve also learned that as a community we could all do with a set of common rules to follow.
First, though, some things to keep in mind when you’re sending emails to people you don’t know (at all or very well), especially if you want something from them. Stareable Founder/CEO Ajay Kishore, fellow All-Emailed-Out person, also contributed to this section.
- Keep in mind that everyone else is just as busy as you probably are, if not more. Don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response right away, or if their schedule is seemingly always shifting. In my experience, if a person wants to blow you off they will, but if they keep trying to schedule with you they’re making an effort, so don’t take it personally.
- Be specific about what you want, whether it’s a 30-minute call for advice about a topic or help scheduling extras for next weekend’s shoot. Don’t be vague- be direct. This allows busy people to easily determine if they’re able to say yes without having to go through five follow-up emails.
- Don’t go for video-chat as a first request. Especially in a professional sense, it’s both far-too-intimate and almost certainly unnecessary. It also requires the invited party to consider background, webcam angle, and tethers them to their laptop on a day they might need to stay mobile.
- The “why” is important. Why are you asking for this thing or reaching out? And why are you reaching out to this person in particular? I’m not saying you have to flatter everyone before you can ask a quick question, but especially if your message is unsolicited, the subject needs to feel like you’ve done some research and there’s a reason they’re the one getting the request.
- Following up is completely acceptable, but use common sense. If your email isn’t on a timeline, following up the next day (or even the same day) isn’t a good look. But if it’s been a week and you haven’t heard anything, a quick reminder message is totally acceptable! Definitely don’t try following up via social media, especially the same day, unless it’s a literal emergency. Spoiler alert: it’s probably not.
- Please copy edit before sending, especially if you want to impress the person on the other end (to write about your series, to collaborate you, to offer you advice as a colleague). Typos are sloppy and so easily fixable, so fix them.
Let’s break the rest of this down by type of email….