If you've read my blog, you know that I talk a lot about cold emailing to make connections, and other tactics to go the extra mile. I'm now hitting my 6 year LA anniversary (yes, that's a thing, everyone counts their LA anniversaries!), and still continue to use these tactics all the time. Even though I've found success, and have been in the Art Directors Guild for 4 years now, I never stop shooting higher, as I crave to learn more about my field and become a better designer.
I'm still cold emailing all the time. I'm still reaching out to people I would love to work for one day, and projects that are slightly outside of my comfort zone. It's easy to get complacent and dare-I-say lazy in this town. But it's also easy to aspire and create. It's totally up to you which route you choose.
As I send my cold emails, I am thinking about all of you. I'm in your shoes, only with a little more wisdom. I wanted to share some of this wisdom with you, in hopes of making the process easier for you. It's interesting to be where I am now, because as I send cold emails, I am receiving cold emails from readers and others interested in moving to LA or working in the film industry. Now that I'm on that receiving end, I have completely new insight.
Here are some things I've learned that are really important for you all to know as you begin this journey:
1. say 'thank you'
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. As you probably know, I love love LOVE helping people. If you send me an email, I will definitely answer. But there is nothing more disheartening when people fail to say 'thank you'. If you contact someone you don't know, and ask them for help, and they go out of their way to give you that help, PLEASE say 'thank you'! Especially if this is your first interaction with the person because you only make one first impression. Show your contact that you are polite, respectful, and truly grateful, and it will take you much further.
2. don't ask anything that google can answer for you
I am guilty of this sometimes, and I totally kick myself for it. If you can find the answer yourself by doing a 5-second Google search, don't ask your contact to take the time to answer it for you. Don't ask a Director "What other films have you worked on?"—IMDb that shit. Don't ask a potential employer at a company "What kind of clients do you work with?" when it's clearly listed on their website. Do your homework. Take 5 minutes to look into the person you are contacting.
I've had LA Bounders contact me asking questions that are answered in the ebook AND on the blog, AND a few other places on the website. I am definitely all for helping you, but don't ask me questions that are already laid out in the book or blog. For example, don't ask "What's a good neighborhood to live in?", when you haven't read the book or blog. What you CAN ask, is "Hey I read LA Bound, and keep going over the neighborhood descriptions, but I'm torn between two neighborhoods. Would you mind helping me figure it out?" I've been called out for making this mistake, and now I finally understand exactly why! When you ask these questions, it shows that you haven't done your homework, and that you may not be a hard worker. Don't make this same mistake I've made!!
3. don't freak out when you don't get a response
Whenever I don't get a response from a cold email, I usually have an inner freak-out sesh. "OMG they hate me!" "I sounded too green!" "Crap, I must have said something wrong!". Sure, there is always a small chance that one of those things is true. Maybe I didn't word the email correctly. Maybe I rambled. Maybe I didn't get to the point fast enough. But now that I'm on the receiving end, the biggest two components that feed into no response are: 1. Lack of time. and 2. Completely forget.
When you send a cold email, there is a very good chance that the person doesn't have time to get back to you. I know how busy I am, and it's a pretty common existence. Even if people flag your email to read later, they may completely forget about it. It's nothing personal to you, it just slipped their mind with all the other items on their to-do list. So, don't worry! You may get a delayed response a week later, or you may not get one at all. If you don't get one at all, send a follow-up (just wait 5 days or so to send it). We all need reminders sometimes, so a follow-up email is a great idea.