Follow Up and Follow Through!

What do the following scenarios have in common?

  • Making a new contact at a networking event
  • A job interview
  • Sending out your resume
  • A date that went better than expected
  • When you say, “I’ll call you later.”

These and so many other circumstances involving your career and your personal life require that you “make a showing” of your interest in another person, and following through is a necessity.
When we meet new people, whether networking for work, career advancement, or building other kinds of relationships, your follow through will help establish your sincerity and interest.   It helps establish your credibility.  Frequently during an introduction, there is little time to really establish a lasting rapport, so it becomes necessary to take assertive steps to continue building this new relationship at another venue and time.
Let’s say you’re at a networking event and meet someone with whom you’d like to build a professional relationship.  Because of surrounding activities – other people known by your new contact, others waiting for an introduction, or other associates waiting for a chance to chat – it becomes imperative to request that you meet at another place and time more conducive to professional communication.  In a social situation, even a professional one, attention spans are short, and there are a lot of distractions, so you want to convey your desire for a deeper, more meaningful exchange when things aren’t quite as hectic.
If you would like to conduct an informational interview with this person, you might say to your new contact, “Can we meet early next week for coffee, lunch or a beverage after work?  Can I have your contact info or business card so I can follow up with you?” Sure, that shows some interest in establishing a relationship, but your actually calling or emailing to schedule that lunch or beverage shows that you are committed to building a connection.
We hear phrases such as “Let’s do lunch,” or something similar, and often take for granted any real intent behind the suggestion.  A newly introduced individual may not be vested in your ovations until they are convinced that you are both sincere and dedicated to the meeting.  This new contact may even be a little flattered that you have sought them out, and are seeking input from them, once they know you are serous about getting together.
Following through necessitates that you pick up the phone for establishing the most personal connection. Yes, sometimes an email may suffice, and some people may actually prefer email correspondence that allows them to respond on their own schedule and convenience.  But you still need to make that effort to communicate.
Sadly, there will be times when you reach out to establish contact, go the extra distance to follow through, and your phone call or email will not be acknowledged or returned.  Your new contact may have been just being polite in accepting your ovation to get in touch at a later time, but less sincere about actually getting together. Don’t take this personally.  Try a second time; his or her personal circumstances may have impacted their ability to respond in a timely manner.  Otherwise, move on, and establish another contact with someone who is genuinely interested in getting to know you and who is willing to share a professional exchange.
Arguably, among the hardest things to follow up is the submission of your resume.  So many recruitment ads specify “No calls please!” discouraging or intimidating applicants from attempting to make contact after submission.  Yet, time after time I’ve heard employers say they want applicants to follow up, and those that do demonstrate a higher level of interest in the jobs they apply for, commitment to their job searches and are more motivated employees.
If the job announcement you’re replying to includes a contact name, make certain that you follow up to confirm that your materials have been received and to request an interview.  If the job announcement doesn’t contain a contact name, make every effort to uncover the name by researching the company online.  At the very least, call the HR department and convey your interest in filling their opening and making sure your resume landed in the right hands.  Being assertive in your job search demonstrates to a prospective employer that you are genuinely motivated.  A good trait!
If you want to be taken at your word, and taken seriously, it begins here!  Send that email or make that call.  Follow up and follow through.
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