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Graduate Showcase student guidance: professionalism

student admiring textile work

How to be professional when communicating with industry

Read our top tips for being professional in your communications when building relations with industry contacts.

The UAL Graduate Showcase is open to the public and enables industry to browse through the University’s student talent. You may be contacted by industry members who have looked at your profile and are interested in your work, so it’s important to demonstrate professionalism in your communications with these contacts.

  • Professionalism is the conduct, behaviour and attitude of someone in a work or business environment.
  • Be self-aware and consider how your words and actions will be interpreted.

Emails

Be polite and respectful when communicating in a professional context. Your email content should be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Confident
  • Credible. Try to avoid sending emails, texts or calls outside of normal working hours (9am-5pm), and re-read your emails before sending them to check your spelling and grammar. Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t want the industry contact to read.
  • Don’t expect an immediate response – allow some time before following up.
  • Think about your response before replying – your tone of voice might be misread.
  • Avoid using emoticons.
  • Only copy in (cc) those who really need to see the e-mail. All recipients of an email can gain access to the email addresses on your cc list.
  • Use short paragraphs.
  • Don’t send unnecessary attachments.
Student working on a computer
Student working at a computer, Student working at a computer at UAL.
| Photograph: Ana Escobar

Texts and messaging

  • Be respectful when someone’s status says that they are ‘away’ or ‘busy’.
  • Be brief.
  • Don’t include anything that you wouldn’t write in an email or typed letter.
  • Use emoticons sparingly.
  • Try to avoid SMS language, and write in full sentences.
Taking pictures at Feminist Internet, Designing Feminist Alexa Seminar
Taking pictures at Feminist Internet, Designing Feminist Alexa Seminar.
| Photograph: Lorenza Demata

Phone calls

  • Be as prompt as possible when answering the phone.
  • Greet the caller by identifying yourself and establish their reason for calling.
  • Always ask before putting someone on hold.
  • Recap what you have discussed at the end of the call.
  • The more phone calls you make, the more confident you will become.
Installation with old mobile phones by Trystan Williams
Installation with old mobile phones by Trystan Williams, MA Fine Art Digital, Camberwell College of Arts
| Photograph: University of the Arts London

Social media

  • Only link to your professional accounts. Your personal accounts should be private.
  • You don’t need to use every social media channel, so consider which channels (if any) work best to enhance your work, reach your target audiences and demonstrate professionalism.
  • Please don’t create new group social media accounts to promote your course’s degree show work. Instead, aim to use existing course and college social media accounts, or link to your own individual professional account if you have one.
  • When contacting industry via social media, keep it professional and offer to share contact details, so that you can speak on the phone or email directly. DMs can be used to make initial contact and introductions.
Imaginary characters costumes, Manga theme Show at British Museum Friday Lates
Imaginary characters costumes, Manga theme Show at British Museum Friday Lates.
| Photograph: Alastair Fyfe

Speaking to media

Media may ask you about the inspiration behind your projects and your future plans within the creative industry. Be prepared by having a few responses at hand that you can tailor to each journalist/media platform. Knowing the tone of the publication is useful in knowing how to respond.

It’s important to be consistent with your brand name and contact details so that journalists can find you easily online. If you do happen to change your details, keep your contacts updated.

Should a journalist want to interview you, request the questions via email so that you can consider your responses and are not restricted by word counts or file attachments. Once you receive the questions, it’s good practice to respond on the same day. Any large files should be sent via platforms like WeTransfer.

If your work does end up being featured, it’s important to say thank you and share links to the piece where possible. Following relevant journalists on social media and interacting with their work is a great first step to building a relationship.

People talking at Applied Imagination Festival, CSM
People talking at Applied Imagination Festival, Central Saint Martins.
| Photograph: Jolly Thompson