The Art of the Follow-up

It's OK to Check in, Just Be Careful About It

By Published on .

Jeanette Guardiola
Jeanette Guardiola
You've made a successful connection, you've perfected your e-mail pitch and you've clicked send. Now what? Well, most of us know what comes next. We wait, follow up, then wait some more. Of course, you have to hope that not only will they remember you, but that they have enough time to respond, and remember to respond. So what do you do if you don't get an initial response? E-mail them again.

This seems like an obvious answer, but I wouldn't say it is. Often, when we are excited about a potential opportunity, we don't want to seem like a bother; after all, there is a thin line between staying top of mind and becoming borderline annoying. At any given time people have a billion things on their mind, and they may mean well but just haven't gotten around to getting back to you and may need a friendly reminder.

That's where you come in.

You can send a short-and-sweet follow-up e-mail. I have done this in the past and haven't experienced any negative repercussions at all; people have thanked me for reminding them or commended me on my persistence. Now of course this doesn't mean you should wait two days at a time for every single e-mail you send, and then resend and resend. Every situation is unique; just gauge the situation and act accordingly.

Another thing that I found to be helpful when it comes to writing follow-ups is to include a bit about something progressive that you accomplished, so that you an show how dynamic, proactive and forward-moving you are. It could be a new campaign or a simple write-up you did or even a volunteer assignment. Just keep it somewhat relevant and succinct.

Another feasible option is a mailing. People mail out little postcards of themselves and their work as reminders, while others do more creative things. With all of the electronic possibilities nowadays I would imagine that fewer people go this route, but still there is something satisfying about receiving a tangible piece of mail, as long as it is interesting and looks nice enough not to be considered junk mail. Again, short and sweet is the idea here, so make it direct and appealing.

When in doubt consider the opposite scenario: Imagine if it were the other way around and you were the person on the receiving end. What would impress you but not turn you off? Imagine how could you exceed their expectations without being overzealous, and then apply that to your follow up.

Jeanette Guardiola is currently employed as a freelance art director for a Hispanic ad agency in lower Manhattan. She is also a recent grad of the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she received a B.F.A in Advertising Design and an A.A.S in Communication Design.
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