As a blogger, my biggest career stumbling block was learning to approach people I’ve never met. It’s a nerve-wracking thing, to approach someone you admire, especially if you’re approaching them to ask for something, but once you’ve mastered the skills involved, it will be the best thing you ever do. So how do you get over your fears and send that first email?
Be brave – the worst answer you can get is “no”
Find out the RIGHT person to contact
Spamming a company with “hi there” emails will not only get you nowhere, it could easily get you blacklisted. Instead, find out who the right point of contact is and send them a personalised email. Make sure you address them by name, there’s nothing worse than getting an email that looks like it’s been sent out to every other industry pro in the universe.
Make it clear why you’re getting in touch
Have a point – even if the point is just to say that you admire and appreciate that person’s work. The worst kind of pitch emails I get are just generic “can we please work together” emails because it means that the onus is on me to find a project and make that happen. Most people are helpful, but they’re not psychic – if you want clothes for a photoshoot, ask for them. If you want to be featured on a blog, put forward feature ideas. If you want to guest write for somebody, pitch some article angles.
Don’t be weird or try to be “zany” – it’s more likely to scare people…
Don’t put yourself on a back foot
If you approach whoever you admire with the idea that you’re inherently inferior to them, it will come across. Don’t apologise for getting in touch or promise not to take up too much time or space, don’t promise to sell a kidney for some time with the person – being self deprecating will just tell the other person that you’re small fry and not to bother, and being overly “zany” will just terrify the living shit out of them. That’s a promise. Just be calm, collected and explain what you have to offer – if it’s not for them, it’s not for them – but I can guarantee that if you think your offering isn’t good enough, they’ll agree with you.
Explain why you want to work with them
Why do you think your brands are well aligned? If they’re more established than you, what do you have to offer them? How have you considered their customers / audience? These are all questions you need to address to make that initial contact as appealing as possible.
Explain why you stand out – in a good way
Follow up but don’t be weird about it
If the person you’re approaching is very busy, follow up with a gentle reminder but don’t get aggressive if they’re too snowed under to respond or if they come back to you with a “no”. I’ll never forget a “meet the editors” panel for some major mags that I attended as a PR. One woman had clearly been trying to get her products featured in Cosmo for a while, she got a front seat ticket and when it came time for the Q&A session started shouting at the panel about how they never answer her emails. To be clear, when I say be tenacious, there are limits! If you’re rude, aggressive or entitled, nobody will want to work with you so be nice and friendly – you never know, they might like your attitude and think of you for something in the future.
And if all else fails
Go out and meet people! I’m not saying find out where your favourite blogger hangs out and stalk them (don’t do that) or only show up to things with an agenda, but get out there. Go to industry parties and just be your fun, happy self – you’ll be surprised at the so-called contacts you make just by meeting some cool people and getting along well with them. Does this person run workshops? Sign up to one and go and learn from them directly – it sounds scary but it’s totally worth it.
Nothing was ever achieved lying around the house
Have you ever approached someone you’d like to work with? What was the outcome? We’d love to hear your stories in the comment box.