The Power of Outreach
I'm six years into my career and so far I've been pretty lucky about the opportunities that I've had and the places that I've worked.
I'm no Eva Chen (who, by the way, is the nicest and hardest working woman in fashion publishing), but I've worked at Teen Vogue, Refinery29, L.K.Bennett, and DesignGood, interned at Vogue, Women's Wear Daily, Time Out New York, Interview, NYLON, and written for Bustle, Glamour, and a snazzy independent mag in London which sent me to places like Monte Carlo and Budapest.
Yeah, it's been a decent run so far. And I've been lucky to have real help from a lot of great folks – my family, friends, professors at the Savannah College of Art and Design, people I've worked with. You name it, they've helped. So I've definitely been lucky.
But I didn't get to where I am in my career through luck. Sure, it was hard work, determination, etc. etc., but the reason I've gotten inside the offices and onto the pages of every single one of these places is because of one thing:
I asked to be there.
Persistence and dedication are the two key traits that I would point to for any success that I've had. When there's something I want in my career: a job or maybe a company or person I'd like to add to my network, I go after it. And you know what? It almost always works.
I'm not sure what it is, but I don't seem to have much of an e-mail filter. I can be somewhat shyer when it comes to meeting new people in person – I actually dread phone calls with people I don't know because it makes me so uncomfortable – but I am the queen of e-mail outreach.
I realize that sounds kind of stupid. Everyone can e-mail, right? And it's not like my e-mails are so well written or crafted better than yours. But it's the persistence factor – anytime I've seen a company I think I'd like to work with or just know in some capacity, I contact them. And they usually write back.
Simple e-mailing alone has led me to some incredible partnerships. It's actually how I got my main gig right now, with an amazing, inspiring Austin-based organization who designs for and highlights creative businesses who are doing social good. I found the company on Twitter, e-mailed the owner, and now we work together. That's it.
Maybe you're uncomfortable doing that. I understand, but you shouldn't be. You know those general e-mails you see at the bottom of every business's site?
You would be shocked at how few people actually use those e-mail addresses. Of course that's not the case for every brand or company, and definitely not for large corporations, but a lot of the time those e-mails are used for general questions or complaints, not for fan e-mail or inquiries about potential partnerships.
Oh, and freelancers: is there a magazine or web site you want to write for, but you're not sure where to start? Try cold outreach. Didn't hear back? Follow-up. Then follow-up again. Then maybe again. Think about it: you're telling someone how much you want to work for their brand. What's the worst thing that will happen?
Again, I'm not by any means at the top of my career or claim to know more than I do. But what I do know is that outreach and persistence pays off.
So assignment number one, for all of you who hate your jobs or want to increase your network or whatever it might be: contact me. Comment below, reach out through social media, or e-mail me.
You would be amazed at what can come to those who ask.