Whether you are following up with clients for business, with a colleague for a report, with customers for payments, or even a prospective employer about the status of your job application – following up is an inevitable part of our professional lives. Even when it comes to professional networking, it is essential for one to follow up with newly formed contacts in order to build a relationship with them. Unfortunately, a majority of people equate the act of following up with being pushy when we know that there’s a fine line between both. How you do it makes a world of difference in how you are perceived and whether you come across as a being proactive or a pest. Tact and persistence are the most important traits that can help you become a master of follow-ups.
Here are certain things to keep in mind while following up with others.
Set a timeline for follow-ups
Timing is of utmost importance when it comes to following up. How do you know when is the best time to follow-up? Say for instance, you’ve asked your subordinate to collate data on the sales figures for their region, which you need to add to a presentation you’re going to make to the senior management. The subordinate misses the deadline and you’re left cutting a sorry figure in front of the management. This happened because you didn’t follow up with the subordinate prior to the deadline to check the status of their work. Be it any situation in your professional lives, not following up at the right time can cost you immensely. You could lose out on business, or a good job opportunity or it could even lead to a loss of reputation as in the example above. Therefore, depending on the situation you’re in, make it a habit to set timelines for your follow-ups – how many times will it be ideal for you to follow up; what are the intervals at which you must do so, and so on.
Try multiple channels
In today’s technologically advanced times, you have multiple options like phones, emails, and various social media channels in addition to following up with someone face-to-face. Therefore, trying only one channel to follow up and giving up when you don’t get a response seems like a feeble excuse and can imply that you’re not serious enough. Says journalist Rhema Baxter, “I was once doing a story where I needed inputs from a famous author. I emailed them; didn’t hear back. I called them and was told that they’ll respond to my mail. A week after the call, when I still hadn’t heard back, I tweeted to them. I got an instant response with an apology saying they had missed my email! 95% of the time, using a mix of different channels has helped me get a response when following up.”
Don’t overdo it
Having set a timeline and trying multiple channels to follow up, it is equally important not to go overboard. Suppose, after your first meeting with a prospective client, they tell you that they’ll discuss your offer internally and get back to you. You wait for a week and then begin following up with them incessantly. You call them every day to check if they’ve come to a decision. Stop right there! You’ve made your pitch, you’ve followed up, and the client has your contact details. If you go overboard, you stand a chance to losing the client if they start seeing you as someone who’s too pushy. Ideally, wait for a couple of days and follow-up not more than 3-4 times at spaced out intervals.
Don’t be under the impression that you’re owed something
Many of us tend to get annoyed when our follow-ups don’t garner a response, especially when we’ve done it endlessly. It is at such times when you must remind yourself that the other person is not obligated to respond to you in any way. Alternately, believing that you or your offer are so good that “they’ll call me” and you stop following up is also not the ideal way of trying to win people over. This holds true in different situations, whether you’re hoping to land an interview, or trying to bag a new client.
Do not burn bridges
You cannot be rude in tone or language. Being rude and demanding a response doesn’t bode well in a professional setup. You must also keep in mind that you may cross paths with the same person in the future where you may need their help. Therefore, you cannot afford to burn bridges. It is also important to understand that people are not always available to answer every email or phone call that comes their way. Since you have no idea why you’ve not heard from the other person, there is no need to jump the gun.
Now that know how to follow-up, let us tell you that you will take time mastering it and follow-up without any pretentions. Also, remember to take a deep breath or go for a walk to clear up your head if you are tempted to give up too soon or be pushy to the point that you literally push your chances away.