I come from a graphic design background originally. It was my career of choice until I dived head first into film/tv makeup and while it may have steered me towards pursuing something new, I will always remember the skills I learned as a freelance designer. One thing that never changed during that transition was email etiquette.
When you’re a designer or even just a freelancer, email etiquette is EVERYTHING. I dealt with most of my clients via email. When you are solely communicating with someone via email, you have to remember that those emails are the one thing your client has to understand what kind of person you are.
How you present yourself via email reflects what type of person you are. I’ve seen some doozies in my time as a designer, so I’m making sure my etiquette is up to scratch now that I’m in the makeup realm. When you’re entering the industry, email etiquette is especially important. It’s how you network when you can’t be face-to-face. It’s how you set first impressions. It’s how you can win people over. You can use email as a tool to gain momentum towards making career progress.
Ultimately, it boils down to three things: care, professionalism, and timing. Are your email manners up to scratch? If not, perhaps I can help with some advice.
Check your emails in the first place!
I’ve seen job opportunities fly out the window because someone didn’t realise that they’d received an email. Apparently, they never checked it, which is a moronic thing to do if you have put your email on your resume, website or portfolio. Check your email at least once a day and respond when you can. Many things are out of our control, but checking emails is something that you ALWAYS have control over.
An email footer is your best friend
Make it easier for someone to contact you. Set up your email with a signature that shows up at the tail end of every email you send, so that people know who they’re talking and what they’re about. Make sure to include your name and contact details. Additionally, it can also be nice to include a small logo (if you have one) and links to your professional website or social media accounts.
Aim to Respond to Emails within 24-48 Hours
Apart from a few exceptions, it’s good manners to reply to emails promptly. Leaving them in your inbox to deal with ‘later’is when you end up forgetting about it. If someone has emailed requesting something from you (especially resumes, folio links etc), make an effort to send them those items as soon as possible. If you’re too busy to have the time to reply properly, then at least send a quick reply apologising for your schedule and that you’ll be in touch as soon as you can.
Remember what School taught you. Proofread.
Nobody’s perfect, and mistakes are entirely human, but there’s nothing worse than an email riddled with spelling mistakes and text speak. Take great care in looking over your email before you send it. I’ve had brain farts before and left whole words out, but I always catch those mistakes during a final check.
Cold calling is rare these days. Consequently, emailing industry professionals for possible employment opportunities is a good way to communicate when you can’t be face-to-face, but it can also be a minefield.
The rules below are a good guide for navigating the murky waters of email etiquette, especially when that email is to a senior artist or department head that you admire. Think of these next time you’re starting a new message:
+ Keep your emails succinct and get to the point.
+ Use a clear subject line summarising what the email is about.
+ Always address the person by name and use professional greetings.
+ Flattery is nice, but don’t milk it. Admire their work in a professional manner.
+ Many won’t reply. Don’t take it personally.
+ Acknowledge them with polite gratitude when they do reply.
+ Don’t pester. Sometimes, it’s just bad timing. Give it time before following up again.