The Cardinal Rule of Professional DMs
Today was the last official day of a nearly two-week vacation I’d been planning for several months.
When you’re self-employed, ‘vacation’ is about a thousand percent more difficult to pull off than when you have a salary and PTO. Partly this is because self-employment means you’re in charge of administering your workflow weeks or months in advance, which is what your manager essentially does for you when you work for someone else. And partly because when you’re a freelancer, people you’ve never even met seem to assume you’re always on-call.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
A few days ago, I was checking Twitter during a rare moment of internet connectivity (I was completely off the grid on a permaculture farm/bnb/communal experiment thing in Costa Rica, but more to the point, I was on vacation) when I saw a message from a name I didn’t recognize.
“Hi Kelli, I know you’re OOO, but…”
I didn’t read the rest. What I did do was hit the little ‘delete message’ icon faster than I ever have before. Sure, I’ve gotten death threats over stuff I’ve written, but this message had me well and truly scandalized!
Fast forward to today. I’m sitting on the bed of my hotel, getting a head start on email catch-up as I wait for my partner to get out of the shower (travel days are okay to work on! But just a little!), when I see the name from the Twitter message. She’s a publicist. Wants to know if I might feature clients of hers in one of my columns. She sent this message, got my OOO, and took it to the DMs. I cringed so hard I nearly popped an abdominal muscle.
Now look. Heart to heart, I’m not exactly a portrait of grace. I mess up. I put my foot in my mouth. I use the smirking purple devil emoji inappropriately in professional communications. But here’s one lesson I feel entitled to impart:
Never, under any circumstances, message someone for professional purposes on social media after receiving an out-of office autoreply from their email account.
If the reasons why aren’t obvious — and to some, they apparently aren’t!—I will list a few below: