We were advised to listen to a podcast entitled Big Illustration Party Time which is hosted by Kevin Cross and Joshua Kemble. This particular episode was about promotion, emailing clients etc. The two guys are both cartoon illustrators and sound like really fun, down to earth people. I was sceptical about having to listen to the podcast but I actually found it pretty useful.
They started of by saying that you shouldn't cold call art directors to ask for work. More often than not they will be too busy and don't like to feel pressured over the phone. An email is a much better way of contacting such people as they can decide to contact you in their own time. Basically an email is a lot less intrusive. I have recently proven this theory when I tried to get in contact with Rapport events. I emailed Paul Rose initially and he got back to me but asked me to contact him the following week as he was pretty busy. I emailed him the next week but didn't hear anything so tried phoning. I got the impression the guy on the other end was not exactly receptionist and didn't have much time to spare. I left a message but didn't hear anything back so emailed again. This time I did get a response and arranged a meeting. Paul asked me to ring and confirm our appointment on the day but when I did speak to him he seemed to be in the middle of something and I immediately felt back. Having said all that when I met him face to face he couldn't have been nicer! This just proves that art directors like to decide when they speak to other people and they can take time over an email.
Anyway back to the podcast, the guys suggested that a mailing list was a great way of keeping in touch with all of your contacts. You have to make sure you include the option for someone to remove themselves from the list but it's a nice 'reminder' to someone that you still exist. Art directors are generally a fan of this idea as, again, it's less intrusive. They suggested sending a mail-out every three months or so - any more could seem too much and this way you can build up your work in-between. They also said not to send an attachment as this can clog up the inbox and put people off responding to you. In the mail-out you should have an interesting font and make it short and sweet - people don't want to know your life history!
Another idea is to send holiday cards (this is the only exception to attachments according to Kevin and Joshua) - but only if there good. They suggested setting yourself a challenge such as illustrating a Christmas card without using green or red.
After you have done a job they said it's always good to send an email thanking the person for the work. You should always be appreciative and it will make people more inclined to give you more work.
Kevin and Joshua also said not to bother emailing people who don't get back to you, they'll just block you and slate your name to others so it's not worth it.
A great tip they gave was to go to book/magazine shops and find out the names of art directors from there.Once you've got their name you can search for an email address online. If you can't find an address, companies usually have the same format so if you can find one from that particular company you can have a good guess at the others.
Next the guys moved onto to social netwrking. Neither of them particularly liked the idea of using sites such as DeviantArt for finding clients - they're more for networking with other designers. Flickr is quite good though as there are lots of art director groups that could be useful. It's also another way of keeping in touch with other designers' or former classmates' work.
A final point they made was to keep in touch with teachers and classmates from Uni, you never know what you could do for each other. A job could come along that wasn't right for you but you could pass it along to someone else and hopefully they'd do the same for you in the future.