It's often been said, "Follow up of Fail" but with the harsh business climate and access to people being what it is today, I think there are some things people need to think about before following up. So here are 4 tips for good follow up.
1. Never let your frustration drive the message- I got a voicemail the other day from a writer who had found my number and called me. He caught me in the middle of another conversation and literally went right into a pitch about his play asking me for an email address to send it to. I told him I'd call him back and the day was particularly busy so I forgot. The voicemail outlined that he had called on x date at y time and that I never called him back. It was clear that he let his frustration drive that message and he reminded me of my shortcomings in this scenario. This does NOT make me want to read his script. If you are following up with someone, you NEVER want to vent your frustration to them. Send that anger somewhere else or send your script to someone else.
2. Do your research and ask how people like to be contacted- Simple fact about me. I answer email 10 times faster than I answer voicemails. Why? My days usually don't allow me the luxury to hop on the phone for extended periods of time. If someone calls and leaves me a voicemail, I may not get to it right away, whereas an email I usually get back to fairly quickly. Anyone who takes the time to ask me this, knows this is the case. There are folks who never answer email but will gladly hop on the phone. There are folks who prefer hand written letters. If someone isn't responding to you, perhaps you used the wrong medium. Switch it up.
3. Be consistent, not annoying- If you don't hear back, you want to be consistent in your follow up. You do NOT however, want to be annoying. How do you become annoying? Let your impatience get the better of you. Standard time it will take someone to get back to you is usually a few days. If you contact someone more than once in a day who doesn't respond, chances are they never will. When you do follow up, just say you are following up and leave it at that. No need for a lengthy explanation.
4. Add value to your follow up- Many times when someone is not getting back to you, it has to do with the fact that they may not see the value in what you are offering. If you won awards for your work that's great, but no one is going to decide your project is for them based on that. You have to come at this from the standpoint of why it would be a good thing for THEM if they get back to you. You can offer a connection or send along a relevant article. You can mention a mutual connection or send them a card. There are a number of ways to communicate that you're a good person to follow up with.
So be sure to follow up with people, but be careful of the pitfalls. If you focus on them, they'll soon be following you.