Part I: The Reach Out
Have you read Molly Beck’s book, Reach Out, yet?
If not, RUN to a bookstore, and buy it immediately.
This book and the principles within it will change your life.
Since reading Molly’s book and participating in Carly Valancy’s Reach Out Party, the way that I reach out has significantly changed.
I used to think every email I sent was “bothering someone”.
I used to think every email I sent had to ask for something.
I used to think every unanswered email I sent was a personal attack, a criticism, and my fault.
Now I know that my initial reach out, much like acting, must be in service of the other.
I must make it easy for the recipient to respond.
For example, many times, people reach out to me from my alma mater (NYU). I am passionate about helping undergrads (hello, former professor here), and I am especially passionate about helping students from my same educational background. However, if someone reaches out like this:
Would you be open to sharing your experience and professional journey with me?
To introduce myself, I’m an aspiring opera/musical theatre singer studying Vocal Performance. I’m interested in _performing____ and enjoy _traveling____ in my free time.
Do you have any advice for someone like me who would want to sing professionally? And how to get started?
I look forward to connecting with you soon!
Have they made it easy for me to respond?
No. I don’t know how to answer those questions without attaching my unwritten memoirs.
Instead of asking a vague, general, open-ended question, try pulling a Chris Voss and asking a clear, specific yes or no question. Give the person some boundaries within which to answer so that they don’t just leave your email unanswered because they don’t know where to start.
I used to also panic when someone would answer my email. It was like I forgot that I was writing to an actual human being on the other side of the internet. Now, I draft my emails visualizing the person on the receiving end. Does their email inbox look like mine? Is it at 15,234 unread emails or Inbox Zero? At the time I’m sending it, are they on vacation or feeding their baby or driving a car? How might receiving this email make them feel? Will it stress them out or relieve their stress?
What do you do when your well-thought out, cleverly curated, brilliantly written email goes unanswered? More on the follow up below…
Part II: The Follow Up
What if I told you it’s less about the initial reach out and more about the follow up? Would you believe me?
Throughout 2020-2021, I self-produced my own work. And I’d say about 90% of my bookings came through the follow up. I get booked because I reach back out and ask the question again.
Because not everyone’s inbox looks like yours.
Because everyone has an insane life trying to juggle many balls in the air.
Because everyone experiences bad days, busy days, broken computers, cancellations, detours, etc.
Because the only person who is constantly thinking about you, unfortunately, is you.
Knowing this, we can stop beating ourselves up for unanswered emails and stop taking things so personally. We can acknowledge that this is part of life, that people miss things sometimes, and we can simply try again if/when we don’t receive a response. In fact, it’s generous to remind people about things (see *).
As An Actor Agents’ Zachary Spiegel says, it’s like a wedding. You send out the save-the-dates. You send out the invitations. You even give an RSVP date. And still, you’re nudging guests months, weeks, days before the big day to find out whether or not they’ll be having the ravioli or the steak.
So acknowledge that the follow up may actually just be a part of the process. It’s part of the pre-packaged invitation suite, if you will.
*Please give people the benefit of time to follow up. Is your request urgent? If yes, maybe follow up in 24-48 hours. If not, how about a week or even ten business days?
** No need to be excessive in the follow ups. If you don’t hear back after the first follow up, maybe try one more, but after that, as Elsa says, “Let it go.”. It might be bad timing at the moment. There might be something going on that you don’t know. The person may have received the information you shared and a response was not necessary.
***If you don’t receive a response now, it doesn’t mean the door is forever closed. Consider reaching out again in the future with a different ask, a different subject line, a different or updated opportunity, etc.
Long story short: My grandma was the wife of an ambassador, and she spent the 60s traveling the world, entertaining leaders in countries like Pakistan, Sweden, the UK, Libya, Indonesia, and more. While serving tomato aspic (IYKYK), she always wore an amazing hat. As a little girl, I grew up playing dress up with her hat collection, and at about five or six years old, legend has it that i turned to her and said: “When you die, will you give me your hats?”
At 100 years young, she’s still alive, but has given me both her physical and metaphorical hat collection because as an artpreneur and teaching artist, I wear many, many hats. This blog is a reflection of that. Come try and few posts on for size!
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