Five Simple Tricks: The Art Of Following Up Without Being Annoying
By Gita Mirchandani, Forbes Councils Member
I recently asked a colleague whether she received feedback from an editor about a story idea she had pitched. Her answer was short and direct — she was waiting to hear from the editor. She had been waiting for over a week, so I asked her to consider picking up the phone (a dinosaur idea) or sending a brief email to check in. I explained that it is her responsibility to follow up and see what else the receiver/editor might need. Keeping in mind the number of emails, WhatsApp and text messages everyone receives on an hourly basis, it seemed like common sense to me and the right thing to do.
There is a fine line between polite conversation and being overbearing or intrusive. Here are five easy suggestions for following up graciously while keeping the communication cordial and considerate. I find the whole game a gentle mix of art, science and luck:
1. Avoid following up on Monday mornings.
If you want to follow up, think about sending a polite email after lunch or midday. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are great days for calls, client updates, etc. Monday mornings are usually frantic with staff meetings, catching up on emails, preparing for trips, etc. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the focus is on tasks and getting things done. So if you call when the customer/editor/potential client is attentive, you may get the response you are looking for, or at least something leading to your “ask.”
2. Always be cordial.
You are probably asking someone for an opportunity or a business favor. Kindness goes a long way. In her book, The Profit of Kindness, author Jill Lubin claims that “kindness is the new currency” of the marketplace. Kindness represents soft power and can go a long way.
Asking about their day, following up on something personal shared with you during a conversation, or mentioning a recent post or article addressing something they are interested in is a nice way to connect. Again, it has to be authentic and real. Using words like “please” and “thank you” are also very valuable.
3. Offer to help and be of assistance.
The world is all about give and take (not take and give). Adding value or extending a helping hand makes one stand out. Sharing information or technical expertise might benefit the other person. Offering a little assistance on a project or making a phone call on behalf of someone is always appreciated. Along with good karma points, these things will keep you top of mind.
4. Send good energy to the other person.
A sprinkle of magic from the universe helps. Positive energy is a must to succeed in business. Aim to be magnetic, likable but always authentic. Smile with your heart and keep a positive attitude. It is amazing how your energy can be felt by the other person (even virtually) and how positive energy during a conversation can go a long way. Also, take notes so you can reference them and demonstrate engagement.
5. Be thankful for the time they give you and set up the next call or time to follow up.
Gracias, merci, dhanyavaad, obrigada, arigato, danke, grazie. No matter how you say it, “thank you” is a very important phrase and an effective tool for building relationships. In this age of informal and fragmented communications, manners can seem outdated, but saying thank you in the business world is more important than one can imagine. It’s a polite gesture and can make or break a deal or business relationship. A simple “thank you” shows clients, partners and colleagues that you value the relationship while helping build loyalty. Solid business acumen and a sense of humor are valuable assets, too.
Even the great Albert Einstein, who said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity,” had to persevere as he learned to speak at a very late age.
Perseverance, diligence, kindness and patience can help you reach your goal. Good energy and a joyful attitude while conducting business and communicating with colleagues and customers (similar to your personal relationships with friends and family) will bring joyful results.