How to Follow Up With Someone Important

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As many aspiring actors know, the hardest part about landing a gig can be continuing the momentum; even with a rep, getting your foot in the door can be daunting. That, of course, often comes down to connections—bonds made at industry events and parties. Yet after you’ve hit it off with a casting director who said “let’s stay in touch,” knowing how to best reach out can be tricky. “The sale is in the follow-up,” says Felicia Pride, a writer, producer, and director who’s worked on Shonda Rhimes’ “Grey’s Anatomy” and Ava DuVernay’s “Queen Sugar,” and who runs the production company Honey Chile. “It’s really about relationship building.” 

What’s the best way to keep a possibly fruitful relationship going? Here are some proven methods that have landed results for our industry experts.

Follow up quickly, and help them remember you.

“I would contact them within the next 48 to 72 hours,” Pride says. “If you hit me six months later, I don’t remember who you are.” But even a one- or two-day window can make you a phantom to someone who’s meeting and talking to dozens of people every day. Give them something to spark their recall—a quick summary of the conversation or perhaps an impossible-to-forget detail. Were you wearing lipstick they liked? Did someone snatch the last lamb chop before your contact could, leading to a funny moment? Now you have a memory morsel that’ll help them say, “Oh, yes, I remember you!” 

Keep your message concise, graceful, and focused on the work.

“Everyone is overwhelmed with emails, so keep yours short, sweet, and not weird,” says Pride. “Definitely highlight recent wins, but don’t send a multiple paragraph email with attachments—unless they ask you to send something. And, by all means, compliment them for work of theirs you admire or accompaniments they’ve made as of late—people love flattery—but avoid fawning so much that it seems inauthentic.” 

Play the long game. 

“Don’t make an ask right away,” says Ian Olympio, co-executive producer on Starz’s hit show “P-Valley.” “It’s about building an organic connection.” 

Keep in mind that TV shows and films can take years to make. Olympio recalls how “P-Valley” creator Katori Hall got in touch with J. Alphonse Nicholson, one of the show’s leads, after seeing him in the play “Days of Rage” Off-Broadway—but it wasn’t until three years later that she was able to cast him. “It’s not always now,” he says. “It takes time.” 

This is why actually staying in touch is important—so when the timing is right, you’ll be top of mind. Social media is ideal for sending bite-sized check-ins. If you saw, for example, that your contact got a new project greenlit, a quick congratulations on Instagram is perfect. 

Know when to ease off. 

There are times, of course, when even your best efforts aren’t fruitful. While you shouldn’t expect a response right away, following back up after a week won’t do you any favors, either. “Especially if there’s nothing to respond to, don’t necessarily expect a response,” says Pride. “They may have read it and it delighted them—they just didn’t respond. Don’t get too frustrated if you don’t hear back the first couple of times.” 

That said, if you’ve reached out a couple times and it’s going nowhere, it’s OK to move on. “Around the third or fourth time, you might want to wrap it up,” she says. “They didn’t mean what they said, or they’re too busy—which is fine. Don’t take it personally, and don’t internalize it.”

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