Engagement, Not Harassment: Some Dos and Don’ts
In an age of unprecedented self-promotion, it can be hard to know where to draw the line. What will keep you relevant, without leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth?
While the focus of this discussion often centers on social media, it’s important to remember that these considerations apply to in person interactions, email and phone communications, really an encounter that brings you into contact with industry professionals. Here are some easy things to bear in mind to make sure you’re keeping it professional.
Make it personal. People respond to people on an individual level. Things like thank you cards and personalized messages, when appropriate, can make a big difference. When you have the chance to make a personal connection, take it. If you’re at a meet and greet, research whoever you’re meeting so you have some idea who they are before going in. You will be more memorable if you can make an actual genuine connection, however brief.
Account for context. Not every situation is the same. Reading the room and knowing when to keep it classy and professional and when you can loosen up and speak heart to heart is a great skill to cultivate.
Timing is everything. Getting seen at the right time is as important as getting seen by the right people. Lining up your engagement and communications with projects you’d like to be considered for can be a helpful strategy. If you’re looking to audition for a particular theatre for example, go to the opening night prior to the audition and make some connections.
Spam people. Keeping your face in front of people is no good if your face becomes perpetually annoying. No one likes to be messaged over and over. Follow ups are all right, but once you’ve followed up, let it be. If you want consistent exposure, following professionals on social media and engaging with their content is a good way to stay present without crossing a line (Just use common sense, avoid commenting the same thing over and over, etc.).
Disrespect boundaries. Remember everyone in the industry, no matter how well connected or important, is a person. Don’t invade their personal lives, homes, families. Don’t use emails or contact info that has not been publicly posted or given to you directly. If someone denies you access to a portion of their lives or work you have to respect that.
Assume familiarity. Culturally it can be tempting to keep it casual. And this is certainly appropriate at times. But if you’re reaching out to someone new and you don’t know their preferences, err on the side of professional etiquette. Assuming familiarity can come off as pushy and false.
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