The Importance of the Follow Up
By Kia Robinson
Making a connection is easy. Keeping a connection is where things get tricky. There’s a lot of talk about networking and meeting new people particularly within your industry. Sure, you can attend a mix and mingle tomorrow, meet some amazing people but, let’s be honest, how many of those people are you actually going to keep in touch with? I often hear people state that they don’t have a problem making the connection. The real struggle is maintaining the connection.
People get stuck because they’re not sure what to say when following up. “Do I just say ‘Hey’? What if I don’t need anything at the moment?” I’ll be honest, I don’t have a method that works 100 percent and I don’t think anyone does. But I do have some tips that have worked for me in the past and can possibly help you forester relationships for a stronger network. See below for tips on effectively following up with contacts and actually staying in touch.
1. Reach out on holidays and birthdays
This is one of the easiest ways to keep in touch. Holidays are great for reaching out and staying on someone’s radar. The e-mails or texts don’t have to be long. In fact, the shorter, the sweeter. “Hey [insert name here], I hope you’re doing well. I just wanted to wish you a [insert holiday here]….” is a great way to start. You’re not asking for anything. You’re politely wishing them a happy holiday season. Birthdays are even better because it shows that you thought about them on their special day. It’s the thought that counts.
2. Reach out even when you don’t need anything
Follow up with people even when you don’t need anything. There’s nothing worse than someone reaching out only when they need something. That’s not the way you successfully maintain a relationship. An occasional, “Hey [insert name here], Just writing to check on you. It’s been some time since we last connected. Hope all is well…” will show that you’re genuinely curious about how this person is doing. Should you ever need something in the future, the fact that you’ve kept up with this person should make “the ask” less daunting.
3. Highlight something great you’ve done or something great they’ve done
Share your success. You’re amazing and you do amazing things. Show off your accomplishments and ask for feedback. People love to know that their input is important to you. “Hey [insert name here], I just wanted to share this project I’ve been working on. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts if you have a moment. I hope you enjoy.” Subsequently, congratulate people on the amazing things they do. If you come across a dope project they’ve been working on, let them know you recognize their craft. Who doesn’t love knowing their work is getting noticed?
4. Ask “How can I help?”
You’re not asking for anything, and instead, you’re offering something. Ask people how you can be of assistance to them. This will show that you’re invested in their success and nine times out of ten, they’ll later return the favor. “Hey [insert name here], I see that you’ve been working on [insert project here]. I can imagine that must be quite demanding. Please let me know if there is ever anyway that I can help you.”
5. Talk less, act more
Far too many times I hear, “We should definitely meet up for coffee or a happy hour one day.” 95% (this is probably an exaggeration but you get the point) of those meetups never happen. Actually make an effort to meet in person. Sure, it sounds good but it feels even better when it happens. “Hey, are you free next week after work one day? Yes? Perfect. Where is your office located? I can meet you in the area when you’re off.” Try your hardest to eliminate all the back and forth emails. Try to provide as many specifics as possible to make sure you two actually meet up.
Like I previously stated, I don’t have a method that works one hundred percent but I’m a firm believer than following up isn’t as hard as it seems. I hope the aforementioned tips help you as you continue to make and maintain connections for the rest of the year. Share your follow up tips in the comments below.
Kia is a recent college graduate that's simply trying to grasp the concept of "adulting". She enjoys hugs, quotes, a good book, and all things motivational. Her favorite book is The Alchemist and she can watch Girlfriends all day long.