I’m paranoid about over-contacting the people that have been kind/stupid enough to let me contact them (you did get permission before you fired off a long email to them, right? Right?) Even with the manners of a victorian waiter, it’s easy to bug the crap out of your contact list and make them stop responding. Here’s three ways I’ve discovered to accomplish this:
1. Over contact. If you write someone more than twice a week with no response, you’re probably writing them too much. Back down the frequency to once a week, then if you hear no response for two consecutive weeks, go to once a month, then every other month.
Be persistent, but make sure you don’t irritate them. In one case, it took me writing to someone for over 7 months a very respectful email before they finally agreed to have an hour meeting with me. Be patient, and it will often pay off.
2. Contact for no reason/poor reasons. Don’t write an email with “hey- how’s your week going?”. This kind of email is ignored because people don’t have time to waste responding to trivialities. Get to the point in the kindest, most generous way possible. For instance, when I’m writing someone that I’d love to meet for career advice, I almost always write something similar to this:
Hi Joe D.,
My name’s Eric, and I’m a friend of xxxxx’s that you know through xxx. I just moved Nashville to pursue a career as keyboard player/producer, and I’m trying to get to know some of the awesome players around town like yourself. Any chance I could buy you a cup of coffee sometime? I'd love to get your thoughts on how to get started in the Nashville scene.
Thanks so much!
This lets them know exactly what I want from them, and what’s in it for them. If you communicate what you’d like concisely and politely, you up your chance significantly of both of you benefitting from your conversation.
3. Poor manners. I once had a young musician write me for career advice, and when I didn’t respond for a week because I was on tour, she sent a blazingly angry follow-up e-mail calling me a jerk for not responding to her.
When writing strangers that you hope to have a working relationship someday don’t respond to you, it’s most likely not because they hate you. They’re probably just busy making a living, and you’re one more thing on their plate. Be patient, and always assume the best.