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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Writing the Perfect Follow-Up

You’ve done your preparing and targeted the perfect industry folks for the kind of career you wanted. You managed to get an audition or signed up for one of their classes, during which you charmed them with your ease and talent. And now that you have their contact information, you’re wondering just exactly what you should do with it. You’ve been told that postcards are the way to go, but what is the best way to write those follow-ups with the same ease and talent you shared in the room? How do you make sure the postcards get read? And how can you do so in a way that doesn’t waste a lot of your time?

There are three kinds of communications you can make via postcard after you’ve met someone in the industry:

  • Thank you (to establish the line of communication). This is sent after seeing/meeting industry in-person and the postcard will now be your "proxy."
  • Update (to keep them posted about what’s going on in your career). This is sent on a regular basis, every 1, 2 or 3 months - your choice. 
  • Invitation (sending them information about a project where they can be your guest). This is sent on an occasional basis, as screenings/shows pop up. 

A few things about creating content:

When sending written communications it’s very important that the purpose include only one of the above - by choosing one intention, it makes it easier for the reader to easily get your message without becoming overwhelmed. Example: If it’s an update, don’t also include an invitation. If it’s a thank you, don’t also include an update. Each one should be separate and succinct.

Always start your communication with how you’re acquainted, so that the industry person can more easily remember who you are. And then tell them what the communication is about. Think of it like a phone call - when you call someone you don’t just say, “Hi, I’d really like to work with you.” That's a little intense and off-putting. You would ease into it with an introduction, “Hi, we met at the audition for the film 'Crazy For You.' I’m sending you an update on what’s been happening with my career.”

You then move on to the main portion of the communication, which is the meat of what you want to say. Think of this section as “solving their problem” - what do they need when reading your communication, and how can you provide that? For a thank you, you’ll want to tell them what resonated with you about your interaction. For an update you’ll want to give them relevant information that they need to know about your career. And for an invitation, you would include the vital information about your project (including how long it is and who else it involved - very important!)

The final section is the sign-off, or what I like to call, “Ask for what you want.” Let them know what you want them to do when they put the postcard down - do you want them to call you for a meeting? Keep you in mind for future projects? Invite you to become a reader for them? Really think about what it is you’re asking for, and then sign off with your contact information so that they can easily reach out to you.

It bears mentioning that it may not be obvious that postcards are “working”, but rest assured that they are! Think of them like commercials - when you see a commercial you don’t automatically get up and buy the product on the screen. But when you are ready to buy something, those commercials will come front of mind and be a part of your buying decision. This is what happens when you help industry folks keep YOU front of mind with your consistent updates.

Finally - you probably notice that the same thing can be said for sending thank you’s / updates / invitations via email. If email is the only contact information you have and you cannot find an address, then email is fine! (The main concern about email is that it can easily get lost in the shuffle of day to day life of the industry member.) But all of my advice holds true for email - the only thing to add is making sure you attach a small version of your headshot to the email so that they can remember what you look like.

Did you like this advice? Great news! I’ve debuted my brand new DIY Course “Mastering the Art of Relationships” which includes video and worksheets designed to help you dive deeply into your communications to make networking easy, painless, and fun. Sign up for the course here:

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican’s career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. She is the Founder/Coach of The Actors’ Enterprise, co-founder and Managing Director of The Seeing Place Theater, and writes an “Experts” column for Backstage. To learn more, check out and find her on Twitter @ErinCronican.

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