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  • Writer's pictureAndi Matheny

Think you're exempt from basic etiquette? Think again.

"Hey," the email to my acting studio began "is anyone around to put me on tape today?"

That was it. Not signed. Not addressed. Nothing. It felt more like a booty call than a business email.

Our studio gets several emails and phone calls daily, with requests for taping, info on classes and everything in between. And because I've now been teaching for ten years, I can tell what kind of student - and person you are - just by the way you address your email or leave a phone message. The more professional students have a sense of proper etiquette. The others do not. I already had a clear picture of the individual above. But more on them later.

Acting is an art, yes, but it's also a business and as an actor you are a businessperson. People in business are not exempt from basic etiquette. When you introduce yourself for the first time to a prospective business relationship (me) I am never going to forget that first impression. This is not Old Fogey-Get Off My Lawn crotchety stuff - it's basic common sense and good business practice.

For example, in writing an email to me, or any other person in business - agents, casting directors, etc. - when beginning an email, it's always a good idea to begin with the person's name. "Dear (Agent)" is always a winner. The alternative "Hi (Agent)" is acceptable as well. What's not acceptable for a first-time correspondence? "Hey" even if it's "Hey (Agent)" And make sure you are spelling the person's name correctly. I can't tell you how many times I'm addressed as "Andy" even though my name is all over the internet and easily looked up. Phone dictation is no excuse.

Phone messages also reveal your sense of business etiquette. A good message clearly states the name, return phone number and a brief sentence or two indicating the nature of the call. We get voicemails that are either unintelligible, or a person just leaving their name and nothing else. If you are unable to articulate what your needs are by phone, I can tell you right now we will likely not want to be in business with you. Again, I've been doing this for ten years. I know.

Business text messages are also subject to politeness. I know it's hard to believe but, your name doesn't always pop up with your text, especially texting us for the first time and given the fact that we have over 1500 contacts. Simply identifying yourself and phrasing your text politely is a better way to go than, "Hey, I want an appointment!"

If you are on the receiving end of an email, either from me, your agent, or any other industry professional, it's important to read that email. Sounds obvious, doesn't it? Wayull I can't tell you how many times I've repeated information that was clearly stated on an email because the recipient didn't bother to open or read it. Or I've asked for a confirmation, to know that you've received and read the information, and get radio silence. That's not only bad business etiquette on your part, it's time-wasting - and insulting - for me. And just try doing that with your agent. They won't be representing you for long.

By the way, the "Hey" person in the first paragraph? Despite the red flags of that message, we politely responded with an appointment time, they did confirm and then...didn't show. Not surprising. In retrospect, we would still probably make the appointment and have one of my wonderful coaches wait at the studio, because we'd rather err on the side of inconveniencing ourselves than deny you service. But given the unprofessional nature of the initial email, we weren't surprised.

I'll go out on a limb and predict, not only will we never hear from this person again, but we'll never see them on film or TV because, "Hey." Know what I mean?

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