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Email Communication: What Works, What Doesn't

Lesson 3 from: FAST CLASS: Working Successfully with Clients: A Class for Illustrators and Designers

Lisa Congdon

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Lesson Info

3. Email Communication: What Works, What Doesn't

Lesson Info

Email Communication: What Works, What Doesn't

I think this is gonna be kind of interesting and fun. Um part of the class, we're gonna talk about examples of good and bad email communication, fortunately we're gonna start with a good one first. Um So what I've done is written a fictitious email from a fictitious art director at the Washington post. His name is Dante Mcwilliams. And this is a very typical kind of email you will get from a potential client. And um a little bit later in the class, we'll talk about what you can expect when a client reaches makes the initial contact with you or a potential client. Um So we'll dive into this a little bit deeper. But this is a very typical email. Dear lisa my name is Dante Mcwilliams and I'm the art director at the Washington post. We have an editorial project in the entertainment section of an upcoming sunday edition. I love your work and I think it would be a perfect fit for this assignment. The job would start monday and I wanted to see if you were available. Thanks so much for your ti...

me. I look forward to hearing from you soon Dante. Okay, here's my response. Dear Dante, thank you so much for reaching out to me about this assignment and for your kind words about my work. I am very interested. I have a few initial questions. So as I'm reading this, pay attention to what I'm doing here, that is effective. I have a few initial questions. Can you tell me more about the timeline for the assignment? You mentioned that it begins monday. When would the final illustrations b do how many illustrations does the assignment include? If you are able to share? What is the subject matter of the assignment? What is the fee for the assignment? I'm also happy to get on the phone to discuss details. If that's better for you. I'm available tomorrow any time. Thank you. Again. Best wishes lisa and I give my phone number. That's not my actual phone number in case anybody was wondering. Alright, I acknowledge that I'm interested. I haven't taken the job exactly said I want it yet because I have some questions and I might not be able to take it. But I'm interested in expressing interest and enthusiasm out the Gates is important. Um They might be enquiring with a few people so you wanna really express that you're interested, especially if you feel like it's a good opportunity. Um And I also said thank you like thank you for reaching out to me and thank you for your compliments about my work. How many of you have ever gotten an email? I mean I'm sure this happens to you all the time. It's sort of silly question where you're like you get the first paragraph and then you you can't read any further because there's too many questions and too much information in one paragraph. So organizing your emails into like really succinct points and questions is actually super helpful to the person I used to have an illustration agent and sometimes I would write her these emails that had way too many questions jumbled together. I've gotten much better at my communication in the last 10 years. Um, but probably not so good at it 10 years ago and she would respond within, she would cut and paste my email into her response so that she didn't miss anything because I asked so many questions and she would respond in a different color. And now I find myself doing that sometimes when somebody writes an email that feels overwhelming or not well organized. So you know, having a well organized email works all right. So let's just review this email shows gratitude. We talked about that. It's a sickness. We talked about that enthusiasm, interest, politeness. And yet I'm still formal. I'm treating the relationship formally friendliness and I think we didn't talk about this as one of the, um, you know, principles of effective communication, but there's also a call to action in there. I say, Hey, I didn't say, I don't say like call me tomorrow. I say I'm available tomorrow if you want to talk on the phone. Like I'm throwing the ball into Dante's court. Okay, so same email from Dante, I'm not going to read it to you again. He's the director of the Washington post. He's got an editorial project upcoming sunday edition wants to know if you're available and interested. Hey, how's it going this project sounds really cool. I'd love to work on it. Let me know the details when you have a chance piece. L okay. It's, you know, it's a little too informal. I've also got a typo in there. Peace should be capitalized. I mean these details matter. Never ever started an email with somebody you don't know. That's, hey exclamation point. Maybe a few months into the relationship or a few weeks into the relationship if you guys have formed a, you know, a good, strong legal relationship. Okay. Here's one high period. I got your email. The project looks cool. I think I can do it. I'm in the middle of another big project right now and my mom is having surgery in two weeks. So I need to be sure I'm available for her. But I should be able to work on it. I should be able to work this in. It would be great to work with you. When do you want to start it? How much does it pay lisa? So there's a lot of things. There's a few things that are okay about this one. But let's talk about what not to do here. Don't overshare if you are in a working relationship with a client and your mom is about to have surgery. It's fine to tell your client that. But you don't even have a contract with this person yet. They don't need to know why you why or why not? You are not available. Um that is a too much information. Let's just keep it simple and succinct. I'm asking a question that he's already answered. Right. And that's one of the things we're gonna talk about in a little bit. Is this idea of reading over the details of an inquiry email so that you're not asking about something that's already been told to you. Alright. There's also so many typos in this one carelessness. You know, this person is obviously checked out. I guess that would be me if it's an example. 1st 1 for me. All right, let's talk about another one. Okay. This one looks like it might be good. But you just wait dear Dante. I received your request. I'm open to talking further about your project. However, I should say I recently took a project with another department at the post and things didn't go very well. Communication was poor. The team seemed scattered and they were always late and getting in the feedback. I needed to meet their deadlines. So I do feel hesitant working with your company. Again that said I know each department is different so I'm willing to consider this project with you. Let's schedule a kind to discuss the detail. Best lisa again, too much information and also we're getting kind of negative here, aren't we? For no reason. This may very well be true. I mean I have actually wanted to write this email before. Right? But I would never do that because I want to treat each opportunity and each individual I work with differently and this doesn't feel appropriate. So email and text are especially tricky, right? Because they're written communication. You want to use an occasional occasional exclamation point and positive language to show that you're enthusiastic and that you care. You want to use salutations. Hello Dante dear Dante. Instead of simply launching into your question or comment, you would be surprised how many emails I get from people, not from clients, but just from people wanting to know things for me or ask me advice that literally do not say dear lisa. And it makes such a huge difference when people have this sort of like human ness about them and they're treating you like a human being and that's how you want to be with your clients and customers read the communication back to yourself. Do I sound professional and personable here. Once you're into the process meaning you've signed a contract and you're already working with the client. If you ever find that you're frustrated or annoyed, take control of your emotions instead of lashing out or being rude, always. Um, I always try to like kill them with kindness. So I did actually have a working relationship with a client a few years ago where I felt like the client was actually being really rude and condescending to me and my response to that was just to continue to be respectful and and model respectful, kind communication, I at least could go to bed at night feeling good. Um, I will never work with that client again, but but I got through it. All right. If you feel yourself having an emotional response, take a breath.

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