A way to seek advice or a new opportunity is to send out cold emails.
It can lead to unexpected outcomes that you may never expect. These are my experiences with cold emailing.
Cold Emailing Sony
When I first moved to New York City ten years ago, I was attracted to the entertainment industry. I thought it would be so cool to work for a music label that represented artists. I dreamt that I would be able to work on the design direction and artwork for performances and see my designs on the big stage.
One day, I found the contact information of the art director at Sony Music Entertainment and decided to cold email him. I requested him to review my portfolio and to possibly provide some advice. I was a young graduate and never thought he would have the time for me, but he set up a time for us to meet.
We met at the Sony offices and had my review session, and I didn’t ask him for a job even though I wanted one. I didn’t want this meeting to seem desperate, but at the time… I wasn’t really good with my words.
From this one experience, I learned that I could reach anyone. I also learned to “pay it forward“ and always give time to anyone asking my design advice and opinion.
Cold Emailing Hollywood
One of my earliest dreams was to work on designs for a Hollywood studio. Two years ago, I decided to cold email two agencies. I was able to score a conversation with a well-respected digital director at Ignition Creative. (They worked on Hunger Games, Kungfu Panda 3, Prometheus.. and many cool movies). When I was close to getting hired there, I decided that moving to LA was the wrong timing. The risk was very high.
Six months later, I had a shot at creating a concept for another movie agency. The movie was WWZ starring Brad Pitt. I wasn’t given any assets and had to create everything from scratch. It pushed me to the tipping point of challenging myself. I loved this work and my heart burst with this opportunity. The release of the movie was delayed at the last minute for six months because the ending of the movie has to be reshot. The site never went live but it was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. Although my mockup did not make the cut, I was grateful for the opportunity. After that experience, I decided to try another cold email.
If you watched the trailer, you would be geotagged as an infected. If it reaches the max cap, a sneak preview of the movie would be released.
Cold Emailing an Expert
I cold emailed an expert (who I believed to be) in the movie-design-advertising field to critique my WWZ design and offer some tips on how I could improve this.
This guy wrote me back a full page rant about how I am trying to steal his business and the industry is “small and everyone knows everyone.” He was threatened, angry, and insecure. I was shocked by his response and accusations of trying to steal his clients. A client can decide who they want to work with and if an agency gives me a shot at work, I’m not stealing your business. I was really disappointed by this response from this high profile professional. I wouldn’t be surprised that the agency asked him to critique my work and he steamrolled it to protect himself.
I remember being shaken up by such a disturbing email. When I look back on this, I laugh really hard.
A newbie like me igniting utter fireball rage from an expert in the industry? I have a lot of power right? I mean, yeah… be crazy afraid of a little competition! This only added fuel to my fire to get even better.
Be warned! No jobs are safe! I’m out to get you! HA HA
By sharing your knowledge on particular subjects does not “give away your secrets” and make you at a loss of competitive edge. No one has the same experience and practice as you. By not sharing your time or knowledge, you can’t be revered as an expert in your field.
By the way, I also cold emailed the author of World War Z. I never heard back but that’s ok.
How do you cold email someone?
Stalk their social media. Figure out what they like and where their hobbies lie? Do they have an interesting perspective or feel strongly about a subject?
Write an email to them about their interest and make an interesting observation without being controversial.
Use some humor in the email. Attach an animated gif from giphy. Do not make bad jokes.
Be respectful and do not demand or expect them to help.
Be extremely brief and short. Send links for the reader to find out more about you. Do not give them your biography!
Be patient and wait for a response. Sometimes a cold email does not come to fruition until a while later and never have expectations about how the person should respond. I never proclaim to be a great writer or marketing expert, but I am able to get a lot of replies through showing my passion, sincerity and being humble.