It’s Friday night and you just made the best pitch of your life to someone who seemed really interested in your brand. You’re bouncing with excitement and can’t wait to start a new business relationship that’s going to change your life. The weekend goes by and the new week rolls around. You hear nothing back on Monday…or Tuesday…or Wednesday. You remember them saying “we’ll keep in touch” at the end of your conversation but now you start getting worried if that person is ever going to get back in touch with you. What should you do? Should you email them? Text them? Send them a LinkedIn message? What should you say?
This is where the power of following up steps in. Even if you feel like you’ve hit it off with someone, it is extremely important to reconnect and touch base after the fact.
The power of following up is a skill that can be trained and there are numerous benefits that come along with mastering it:
- Expanding your professional network
- Establishing good rapport and positive relationships
- Streamlining your work process and getting things done faster
- Building your personal brand
- Lessening the chances of getting ghosted and missing out on a great opportunity
How to make sure your follow-up skills are on point?
- Agree on follow-ups beforehand
I sure wish I knew when and how to follow up with someone so that I don’t seem annoying”, you probably thought to yourself on at least a couple of occasions. You can totally avoid unnecessary fears and hesitations by just asking people questions. Make it a habit to plan how you’re going to reconnect in the future before saying good-bye to that person. Simple questions like these go a long way:
- What’s a good time for me to follow up?
- How should I follow up with you?
- When should I be expecting to hear back from you?
- What’s the best way to contact you?
- Can I get your contact info? I’d hate to lose you
The point is to manage expectations and create a clear action plan for the future.
If they promise to follow up with you but don’t for some reason reach out to them the next day after the established date of the follow-up (if you had one) or 3–5 days after you’ve had a conversation (if you didn’t). Things do slip through the cracks sometimes and there’s no shame in being the first to get in touch and remind people about your agreement.
Don’t be apologetic about being the first to write, just keep your message to the point and thank the recipient.
As you may remember, over a week ago we had a discussion regarding a series of workshops I proposed to organize at your company. I was wondering if you had enough time to consider the proposal or if, maybe, you have any additional questions I could answer.
If you’ve been too swamped lately or decided not to move forward with this idea, please drop me a quick line just for me to know where we stand at this point in time.
2. Don’t put it off until it’s too late
Sometimes follow-ups are not required but welcome. For example, after you meet an interesting person you’d like to stay in touch with. If that’s the case, it’s better to follow up with them within the next 24 hours while their memories of you are still fresh, send them some relevant and interesting materials regarding the topics you’ve discussed, an invitation to an event, or just say that you’ve enjoyed meeting them.
It’s Brian from …..Hope you’re well. It was a pleasure talking to you today I had fun meeting you at the event yesterday. As promised, here’s a link to our pitch deck you may be interested in checking out. Let me know if we can connect any time next week and discuss it in further detail. Also, feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Another case when rarely people follow up although they should is after a job interview. Obviously, you don’t need to press the company to make a hiring decision asap but a short thank-you note to the interviewer sent shortly after the interview is likely to make you stand out from a pool of other candidates (in a good way). Keep in mind that most modern companies hire based on company fit, not just job fit. That is to say that your soft skills and aligning with the company goals matter just as much as your hard skills. If you don’t have much experience with certain technologies but express interest in the company’s projects and show how you can be helpful to them, this will significantly increase your chances of getting hired.
Thank you for bringing me on for the interview today. I enjoyed meeting so many people passionate about new technologies. After speaking with your CTO, I’m now able to see that I align with your company values and like your company’s culture.
The project you’re hiring for really appeals to me and I can see how I could use some of the solutions I’ve developed for a few of my personal projects in a professional capacity if I were to join your company.
Look forward to hearing from you.
3. Follow up with a clear goal
Keep it short and sweet (I guess you could say concise and friendly instead). Before writing a follow-up message, ask yourself one of the two following things:
- How can this person help you?
- How can you help them?
In other words, prioritize the purpose of your follow-up message and center the message around it. Don’t write overly long paragraphs with too much background information, instead stick to a clear, concise format and use bullet points where you can. The whole point is to make your message easy-to-read and avoid wasting the recipient’s time.
It’s a good practice to start your message with a bottom-line. That is to say, instead of describing your entire thought process of how you got a certain idea or came to a certain decision, start with the conclusion that you’ve reached first, and then provide more details if required.
In our last meeting with you, we made a decision to circle back to the KPIs issue in the next fiscal year. However, upon doing some additional research I believe we need to make changes to our KPIs starting next quarter. The main drivers behind this being the following:
-Rapid company growth
-Pivoting from a product to a SaaS company
-Changes in corporate culture and philosophy
-The need to adapt to a new business model
I’ve attached relevant data points and reports for you to take a look at. Maybe you’ll see it differently, but I’m pretty sure these numbers speak for themselves.
Anyways, let me know if you agree with me. We could hop on a call any time this week to continue this discussion.
Another way you can be mindful of your recipient’s time is to follow up in the same email thread instead of writing a new email each time. It will make it much easier for both of you to track your correspondence without going back and forth.
4. Following up is about building relationships too
Following up can be about catching up or getting back in touch. It is a powerful tool to help you build your personal brand. Let people know when you think about them, congratulate them on their achievements, and be there for them to share their joy or express sympathy when the going is rough.
Hey, I just saw that your company is on the list of speakers for the upcoming ABC event. You guys rock! I’m going there too, can’t wait to hear your presentation!
Even if things don’t work out at first, you end up having to pass on someone’s offer or get rejected, it is still important to not burn your bridges as you never really know how things may change in the future. Your old connections may prove to be valuable down the line so don’t turn your back on them.
You may remember me from the ABC event a little over a month ago. I really enjoyed discussing AR technologies with you. Speaking of which, there will be an event here downtown two weeks from now dedicated to AR and how it can be leveraged in digital marketing. I thought you could be interested in checking it out. Here’s a link with more info.
A couple of months ago you reached out to me with an interview invitation that I couldn’t accept. However, I have a friend who is currently looking for a job that I could recommend. He’s a DevOps engineer with over 3 years of experience and I think he could be a good fit for your company. I can personally vouch for him to be an excellent expert and a great team player. Here is a link to his LinkedIn profile.
5. Don’t leave people hanging
No one likes being ghosted but no one likes being the bearer of bad news either. Sometimes it may be hard to say “no” to people, still politely rejecting someone is times better and more considerate than not giving any response at all. It all goes back to point #4.
Thanks for taking the time to reach out to me. At the moment I’m pretty happy where I am so I can’t say “yes” to your offer but I’ll keep you on my radar for the future. Maybe there will be a reason for us to get in touch some time down the line.
Unfortunately, my circumstances have changed to such a degree that I’m not going to be able to make good on our deal. I’m sorry to be letting you down but I’m afraid my hands are tied in this matter. I’ll be open to future collaboration with you and will be sure to keep you in the loop.
Learning how to follow up is an essential part of the English For IT Communication course where we focus on the key business communication areas including presenting, chatting, emailing, working on a multicultural team, and networking.