Posts Tagged ‘follow-up’

Make Follow-Up a Snap!

May 16, 2008

Sometimes there’s no way around it. You can’t seem to reach the business contact you’re calling directly, and you must leave a voicemail. If it’s your first time reaching out to a particular contact, it’s a good idea in the voicemail to allow yourself some room for follow-up right off the bat. After you introduce yourself briefly, leave your phone number and a good time to reach you. This is where you can add: “I’ll also send you an e-mail, in case that is a better way for us to connect.” This way, your “stage 2 follow-up” is already in place.

(see today’s full article below…..)

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Have you noticed that as tough as it can be to “put out initial feelers”, it’s often the follow-up with new contacts that presents the real hurdle?

If you’ve ever been caught wondering what to do after you’ve put yourself out there and haven’t heard back, you are not alone. It’s likely that each of us — whether we are looking to grow a business, land a new position, advance in our chosen field, or just make a new friend — can relate to feelings of discomfort around following up. We’ve all asked ourselves the same questions: Should I call or e-mail? How can I be diligent without being too pushy?

Months ago, I worked with a client (I’ll refer to as Sally) who had a goal to land a new position in a competitive field, and would often find herself STUCK when leads seemingly went cold. Sally told me she would hesitate to follow up if she hadn’t gotten a response to an initial e-mail she’d sent, her mind filling with a litany of possibilities:

“I think to myself, perhaps the person never received my e-mail; perhaps she hasn’t opened my e-mail; perhaps she’s too busy to write back; or, worse yet…perhaps she isn’t interested in me! (??!).”

This last thought stops many of us from taking further action, and has us dropping the very leads that could be instrumental in reaching our goals.

So, how can we make follow-up more comfortable…and effective?

Three things…

1) Recognize e-mail for what it is. While it may be less intrusive to send an e-mail as a “first step”, it is important to consider the other side of the coin. E-mail is a largely anonymous and more passive means of communication (than say, picking up the telephone). From the perspective of the person receiving them, e-mails are an easy medium of communication to ignore. Not even to mention that many people won’t even open e-mails from people whose names they don’t recognize.

2) Gain permission in advance to follow up. If e-mail is the mode you feel most comfortable using initially, consider requesting permission for a follow-up phone call inside your initial e-mail. By doing so, you invite conversation and effectively put an end to wondering what to do if an e-mail of yours should go unanswered. At the very end of your initial e-mail, include a “call to action”, such as: “Feel free to e-mail me at this address, or I’ll give you a call Wednesday morning to discuss further.” When Wednesday morning comes around, if it turns out that you haven’t heard back, it is no longer a question of whether to follow up or not; rather, following up is a commitment you have made to that person.

3) Consider placing a phone call first. Unless you know the person does not like to receive calls or is very difficult to reach, an initial phone call allows you to learn and do several things that an e-mail does not. For starters, when reaching out to a new contact by phone, you can ascertain quickly if this person is indeed the correct one with whom to move forward (better to know upfront than to send an e-mail to the wrong person). Secondly, his or her tone on the phone allows you to gauge a person’s general interest level immediately. And lastly, time permitting, you can engage in a give-and-take conversation on the phone, the likes of which would be nearly impossible via e-mail. Many times, folks find they come away from one phone call with more insights and leads than they ever could have gained through e-mail alone. Added bonus: A phone call positions you for more productive follow-up. After speaking with you by phone, a person is much more likely to open your subsequent “follow-up” e-mails, simply because you — the SENDER — are now recognizable.

There is, of course, one notable drawback to using the phone — the possibility of not reaching the person directly (see above).

My client, Sally — who used to spend time & energy wondering what to do when an e-mail of hers went unanswered — had this to report recently, which I share with her permission:

“…Jen, I realize it all shifted when I began placing phone calls before sending e-mails. This let me determine if the hiring managers: a) were still there, and b) were receptive. By establishing a more personal connection by phone, I noticed they took my ‘follow up’ e-mails more seriously…And not for nothing, this new way of operating gave me valuable practice making phone calls. Three months later, I’m writing to you from my brand new office!”

If you’re game for experimenting in the coming weeks by including “calls to action” in your e-mails or by swapping e-mail for the phone, I’d be curious to know how it goes. Let me know! I would love to hear from you.

Cheering you on!

Jen

Learn more about Jen’s career coaching services at www.JZBcoaching.com

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