How To Network With Radio People

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Networking with people is scary. Especially when you’re sending a cold email.

But, like a lot of podcast people, I actually get legitimately excited about fielding emails from other people who love radio and would like to connect with me. I get a lot of value out of the experience. It makes me happy to help others! Plus, so many people helped me in the past that I feel a duty to pass that on. And who knows? Maybe you’ll be in a position to give me a job one day :)

So, with all that in mind, I’ve created this resource. I’m sure lots of people will disagree with many of these things — and this is not a be-all-end-all list of concrete rules. It’s just what I tend to look for in people who reach out to me.

Anyway, here’s the list:

Get a reference from someone (if you can).

I’m way more likely to meet up/take a call/answer an email if a friend or colleague of mine vouches for you. It’s always smart to use their name in the subject line, as well, so I immediately make a connection and have a higher desire to open your email. It also takes some of the pressure off.

Keep emails short and scannable.

Like, 1–3 short paragraphs. I want to be able to read your email easily and quickly. You don’t need to tell me your life story — just a short sentence or two will do.

Mention something specific.

That way, I know that you’ve done your research and aren’t just copying/pasting a form email. For example, you could tell me something I liked about a specific technique I did, or ask me a question about how I structured the story. Unless you’re someone like Ira Glass, people probably don’t send a lot of specific fan letters to producers. So you can distinguish yourself by getting me jazzed! (Just make sure not to bullshit the people you reach out to. It’s pretty easy to tell if you’re trying to just get something out of me.)

Have a specific ask.

Why are you reaching out? What do you want? What would you like me to do? I like feeling like I’m helping people, and I think a lot of others do too. So tell me how I can best help you. And be direct about it.

Cater to my schedule.

If you’re interested in chatting with me, offer to meet me in person/do a call at a time/place convenient to me. You’re the one initiating contact and asking me for something, so it’s a nice gesture to offer to cater to me. You can still work things around your own schedule — just be outwardly flexible. Side note: I generally reject offers to buy me a coffee/lunch but I very much appreciate the gesture.

Proofread.

Check your email draft for spelling, grammar, and names. it’s not a big deal if you misspell something but make sure that you’re not using someone else’s name or podcast or anything like that. It’s just not a great look and makes me feel like you didn’t really think this through.

Don’t ask for a job.

I don’t have one to give you, unfortunately! And if I did have one to give you, I’d prefer you went through the proper channels just like everyone else.

Don’t ask me to listen to a piece of yours.

Maybe this is just me, but unless you’re a student or friend of mine, I almost never listen to other people’s stuff, even if it’s short. It’s just so time and labor intensive — it’s quite difficult to take the mental energy to listen to a piece and give solid, detailed feedback. It’s just much easier for me to talk off the cuff for 30 minutes.

Don’t ask for free consulting.

This one is especially for business folks. If you think I’m valuable enough to give you valuable advice about the app you’re working on, why are you valuing that time at zero dollars?

Don’t get upset if I don’t get back to you.

I really try to get back to people in a reasonable amount of time. But sometimes work is crazy or I’m having some difficult personal challenge or I just accidentally archive your email. (This happens frequently for me, even when I’m responding to friends!) Plus, some people just don’t have time or field so many requests or have new babies or whatever that it’s impossible for them to devote extra time. That’s ok! They gotta do them.

Follow up.

That said, please follow up! That demonstrates to me that you’re devoted and have your shit together. Plus, if I did accidentally forget to get back to you, you’ve done me a favor by reminding me. Just wait a week or two. Otherwise, it may come off as pestering.

Ok, keeping all this stuff in mind here’s a sample email that I might send to someone I’d like to connect with:

From: Alex Kapelman
To: John Smith
Subject: Jane Doe Referral — Can I buy you a coffee?

Hi John,

I’m an independent producer who makes a narrative show called Pitch. Jane Doe suggested I reach out to you because I’m interested in learning more about sound design.

I’ve been listening to The John Smith Show for several years — and I’ve read your Transom article, listened to your interview on Tape, and attended your Third Coast talk last year, so I’m already quite familiar with your style and radio origin story. I’d love to be able to ask you some more specific questions about sound design.

Would you be around to grab a coffee in the next week or two? I can meet you at a time/location convenient to you. And if coffee doesn’t work, I’m more than happy to chat on the phone.

Hope we’ll be able to connect!

Best,

Alex

Like I said, this is just from my own experience, and from what I’ve heard from a lot of others. But I’d love to hear more from others if you have conflicting, supporting, or additional feelings/advice! Just email me: alex AT podcast DOT love.

Alex Kapelman