Are you sending emails the correct way?
Recently, we have been receiving quite a few emails in regards to our open call, people wanting their work featured on our platforms and some even asking us to review their portfolio. One thing we have noticed however, is a general lack of people knowing how to send professional emails. Maybe you have been applying for open calls, portfolio reviews, competitions or might have even been reaching out to industry professional to send in your work, if they haven’t been responding its either that they are super busy or that they were put of by the lack of etiquette in your email. One thing you must always remember when reaching out to someone via email, is that that email is the first point of contact between you and them! What you write is a literal representation of who you are, it will either win them over, leading them to actually read the entire email and respond to you, or put them off making them not even read the first 3 lines and a reply not being in the question. So, what are some common mistakes that people have been making?
What you shouldn’t do when sending an email…
When sending an email, you should always send it with the belief that the person you are aiming it at is very busy and the first two lines will either keep them reading or put them off. Here is an example of an email that would most likely put an industry professional off.
Analysis: There are many things that are wrong with this email such as;
1.) Subject line: The subject line will either make the recipient open the email or throw it in their junk mail! It must give a concise description of what the email is about, ‘I want my work featured’ is extremely unprofessional and a little bit rude.
2.) Who is the email addressed to: One thing we have noticed is that many people are lazy to do their research, this is a huge put off! If you have not even dedicated the time to go on the website, social media platforms of the organisation and find out who the Founder is, or who you should direct the email to, then it shows that you may not be cut out for the opportunity at hand! A quick google search or asking someone is enough to tell you who you should direct the email to, and if you have done all of that but to no avail… then a simple ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening’ or ‘To whom this may concern’ is much more polite and formal than a ‘Hi’.
3.) Content: When meeting someone for the first time you would make a conscious effort to make a good first impression, right? This must also be done when emailing someone for the first time! Don’t be so quick to say what you want from that individual as it gives the impression that you are using them. Introduce yourself and what you do in a succinct manner, talk about what you know of the organisation and how great it is (a bit of flattery can go a long way) mention what you would like from them (without sounding rude or needy) and how it will benefit you. If it has anything to do with your work, I recommend putting it on a PDF file document with your images, the title and a short narrative plus your bio. Then close of the email politely showing that you are looking forward to their response regardless of whether it is favourable or not. Your email should go a little bit like this…
This email is short, sweet and straight to the point. It already informs the recipient of what the email is about so you don’t have to leave them guessing. It shows that you are a serious individual who has done their research and found out their name (very important). The short flattery gives the recipient the confidence that you keep up to date with the organisation and understand the importance of the work it does. And the quick summary of what your work is about, does the reader a favour by them not having to spend much time reading and trying to understand your narrative because they know they can read up on it in your PDF. Even if your recipient does not respond straight away, at least they can move your email to a new folder for them to have a proper look and respond later (which is much better than being moved to junk mail or trash!)
So, there you have it! A quick example of what not to do when sending an email and how you should aim to conduct yourself. The structure of your email does not have to be exactly as the one shown but it should contain the same etiquette professionalism and succinctness. Take it from me, one bad email could really ruin your chances of a great opportunity, a bad email that could have easily been avoided!
Anne Alagbe, Founding Editor of No! Wahala Magazine is an indepedent Photo Editor and Documentary Photogragher based between Abuja and London. She presently works as a Visual Communication Expert within the development space in Nigeria. Visit her website and Instagram