A few years ago, we were all working in our office when a local company stopped by with a box of bagels and coffee for us. We didn’t know them, but they were reaching out to local marketing companies to let people know they exist (they were photographers, so potentially a good partner). They seemed nice, and it was a sweet gesture!
That afternoon, I connected to a few of them and looked for a time when we could chat further. They never replied, and never reached out separately. I still don’t understand how they were so organized and thoughtful to bring the food, but then completely disappeared.
I’d love to chat
Another time, also a few years ago, I attended a business luncheon where one of the sponsors was a local independent realtor. While we don’t often work with realtors, I certainly enjoy making those connections as you never know what might happen. In fact, she said “Please connect with me on LinkedIn and I’d love to meet any of you for coffee”.
I did, and suggested a few days/times, and… nothing. I’ve seen her at other events and we’ve had good conversations, but she never replied to that message so I didn’t push it. Again, though, this was someone that went though intentional effort and expense to create these connections, and then failed to follow-up
Follow-up can be bad
Of course, repeated follow-ups can be bad. I get spam daily from people that say things like “Hey, just bumping this back to the top of your inbox so you can call us for all of your blah-blah needs!“. That’s spam, that’s annoying, that’s bad.
It can also be a little frustrating at times. If we’re working with a client and need a photo from them, we trust them to send over the photo when they get around to it. Many times, of course, we have to follow-up a few times with reminders. It’s not that they’re intentionally forgetting to send, but in most cases it’s a chaotic inbox that makes things hard to keep up with.
There is one person I know that when I email her, if I don’t hear back within a few hours I just need to try again later. Her inbox is so out of control that once the message gets buried behind a few more, she’ll never get to it. It’s not a good look.
In the end, though, the fact that so many are bad at following up has been a great thing for our business. Simply keeping up with potential (and existing!) clients can put you at a whole new level.
I’ll leave you with two quick tips, one from each side of the table.
For you to not be a slacker like the examples above, inbox zero is likely your best bet. Even if you can’t do that, if you’re able to stay organized, you’ll take care of what’s important. Really if you can just control your inputs, you can often stay on top of things.
To help with others, the “snooze” feature in many email tools can be your friend. When I send an email outside of my team, I often send it and then snooze the thread for a few days so it’ll pop back into my inbox as a reminder to check back in again. Depending on the situation, your task management system may do the job too, as you’ll continue to have that open loop to finish a task that requires your client, and you can just kick that forward a few days at a time.
What tips do you have to make sure you stay on top of the replies you need?