Ever feel like all that flexibility training and them clean lines just feel redundant when you have to step into your power suit and try write an email? It doesn’t have to feel so intimidating. Here is a quick intro to being professional without being awkwardly formal.

Do your research

1. No more generic applications

Generic template emails warrant little emotional connection. You’re not out here trying to be the head of the Parking Fines Department, you’re trying to work in the arts.

If you’re interested in working for a company, read up about them and look for their mission statement, bios and any interviews with their CEO. Use this in your opening to build an actual relationship. Adding a personal connection is a bonus. For example, mentioning a mutual friend or an artist you’ve both worked for in the past.

2. Don’t ask for advice on things you can Google

If you’re interested in learning how to become a professional dancer and would like to email a choreographer about it, show that you’ve taken some initiative on your own already. After you’ve already outlined that you’ve done research on this choreographer and love their work, outline how you’ve been approaching choreography independently with a collective of your peers. Talk about the kinds of festivals or benchmarks you’re keen to get to.

Because you’re extra fancy, end with a particular roadblock you’ve hit and outline how you plan to overcome it based on your research. Then ask for advice on whether they think you’re on the right track. End with a thank you and offering something in return for their time. That might be a simple coffee or perhaps an offer to help them with admin work in exchange for the learning experience.

This takes your enquiry from general vague child’s play into the big league of pro-active thinkers and self-motivated doers.

Negotiating rates

Ok, so someone has called or DM’d you asking you to be in a music video. A lot of producers will try get you on a phone and push a sense of urgency so that you blurt out a rate. Never, ever quote over the phone. Always ask them to send you an email outlining all the details of this job, including their rough budget idea. This allows you to read the terms of the job over several times, breathe, sit back and then formulate a considered response.

Ok, remember how we did that exercise on listing your ‘never again’ moments from Article 1? Here is how we put that list to use in an email.

Example on how to negotiate like a boss:

Hi Ariana

Thanks for thinking of me, I looked through your work and love your music and the trippy Salvidor Dali style of visuals you use in your video clips . Also your last music video featured my friend, Justin, as your main dancer – small world! (showing you’ve researched them and even added a personal connection through ‘Justin’)

Your new music video concept sounds like a rad challenge. Before I send a quote, I’d just like to know a few things:
– Do you just need freestyle or will you require choreography?
– Do we provide our own costumes? If so, what will they be?
– What’s the usage of this footage (advertising/billboards etc & how long will it be circulating?)
– Lastly, do you have a budget allocated for talent and choreography?
– *add your own dot points here*

Let me know and I can start pulling together some initial movement and casting options accordingly. I’m excited to jump on board for this project.

Cheers
Vanessa Marian

The negotiation breakdown

Why do you need to know all that before quoting your rate? Because freestyle vs choreography is the difference between turning up on the day with no prep vs hiring a studio and spending 5 hours choreographing, teaching and cleaning the dance. If they write back asking you to provide your own gold costumes and wigs, then you need to charge them for it. All of this information shows clients that you know what you’re doing and you have basic costs that need covering.

If an artist cannot afford to pay you a talent fee but you’re dying to be part of their project, then at least find out what all your costs will be and make sure that they cover that. Never put your own money into someone else’s dream unless it’s a genuine collaboration. Bare minimum.

If working on a project for free will pay you with experience, then consider taking it on if you can negotiate some other exchange, such as a free headshot taken BTS on set by the photographer.

Email dot points

Ok before I sign off, here are some more quick email etiquette dot points to keep in mind:

  1. Use clear, explanative subject lines (“I was in the audience at your talk yesterday” “Expression of interest for casting” or “Hi, we both went to Brent street! Just reaching out.”).
  2. Keep your message concise and polite—you’ve only got about 10 seconds of your reader’s undivided attention, so the first two lines matter.
  3. Say thanks, and use manners often.
  4. Don’t presume they will reply. It’s not personal.
  5. Continue conversations on a single chain: introducing multiple topic threads confuses the reader.
  6. Don’t forget that emails are easily forwarded. Sensitive issues are best discussed in person.
  7. Mind the time: email between 9am – 5pm, otherwise you are showing a disrespect for someone’s personal time or setting a tone with people to contact you and expect a response whenever.
  8. Therefore/hence/furthermore = in the bin. You are not in 1870
  9. LOL, WTF, CAPS LOCK, FML = in the bin. You are here to be taken seriously.
  10. Use exclamation points sparingly otherwise you look crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  11. Don’t bother with Dear Sir/Madam. A simple Hi *Name* or Hi is fine.

Conclusion

Writing emails is an important skill, but don’t feel too intimidated to reach out. Putting yourself out to the universe is a great way to back yourself, and show others that they should back you too.

Keen to keep levelling up? Stay tuned for our 101 Marketing and Personal Branding article that we will be releasing next week.

Groove Therapy is an organisation that focuses on dance as a vehicle for mental, physical and social change. Through an unrelenting obsession to learn, unlearn and contribute to the betterment of humanity, Groove Therapy teaches beginner weekly ‘no mirror, dim lights’ classes across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in Australia. For those who cannot geographically attend, Groove Therapy has a series of online courses. Get out of your head and into your body. Dance a little baby.

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