A Friend of the Blog is having trouble parsing an email her would-be producer has sent her about financing. She's unsure how to react.
First of all, if someone is being unclear about whether they are going to be able to pay you or not, you are entitled to ask for a straight answer. If they don't have a straight answer to give you, then the answer is probably "no," and if they are resistant to giving you a straight answer, then the answer is "no" with a topping of "you don't want to work for them."
Second, don't use email as your primary form of communication
. Many people these days hide behind email. What email is great for is creating a paper trail. After a creative discussion, write up what you think you understand from it, and send it to the other parties. Same with negotiations.
But if you are trying to find out answers, call. You can't tell tone of voice from an email. Better yet, if you can, drop in. Best of all, go to lunch. The more time you spend in person with people, the more you will develop your relationship with them, and the more you'll know what is up with them. When you are there in person, people are more likely to remember what they needed to say to you.
If you are cultivating a relationship, that goes triple. Never send an email when you can call. Never call when you can visit. Never visit when you can wangle coffee.
When people get emails, they usually try to bat them away as fast as possible. That means they may not give you a full answer. They will feel justified in giving you less than two minutes attention.
On the phone, they will at least try to finish off their thoughts. They will rarely give you less than five minutes of their attention. But they may not remember everything they had to say, and they certainly won't bring up additional projects.
In person, people usually feel obliged to give you at least fifteen minutes of their time. They will bring up additional projects, but they may not try to get to know you as a person.
Over food, people will rarely give you less than half an hour (coffee) or an hour (food). They will actually try to get to know you as a person.
Try to be there
as much as possible. At least until you run out of time and you're so busy that you start telling people, "Just shoot me an email and I'll get back to you."
Labels: blog fu, breaking in, strategery, technology