Ran across an interesting article on JDSupra Business Advisor by Josh Beser. He offers good advice on how to follow up after meetings, so they don’t end up having been a waste of time. First, he tells a story about meeting with an unhappy associate and how he gave free advice. And then sometime later, not having heard anything in terms of a thank you or buzz off, he received an email requesting additional unrelated advice from the same attorney.
He was put off by the failure of a “follow up” by this young lawyer. And, remarked that he would waste no more time with this person. My sentiments exactly. I too am asked and give free advice occasionally. But, if I don’t receive some follow up (including a thank you), they’re off my list.
Although Beser’s advice addresses meeting follow up, he says, one “could adapt this framework for following up with people you meet” at networking events, but I gather he was primarily referring to one-on-one meetings whether in-person or by phone.
His suggestions and some of my thoughts include:
- Take notes during your discussion. Obviously, that will be helpful in remembering the conversation and following up with the person. It also shows real interest in what the person is saying;
- Follow up by email (and a handwritten note, I suggest). I like his idea about make the email brief and easily readable on a smart phone. Yes, do both email and a note, start the latter with “Again, I want to take the opportunity to thank you……etc.” Such notes have a real impact IMHO.
- Include actions for each follow-up. Not only should the email be brief and to the point, but it should include numbered action items and/or comments on points of interest discussed;
- Save something for later. Hold back something to follow up with at a later time to keep the conversation going, and have a reason for contacting the person again, particularly if they did not respond. The first time might have been bad timing on the recipients end, and they could have just overlooked your email among the myriad of emails we all receive; and
- Schedule a three-week check-in. For some of the reasons above, follow up again. As I tell the lawyers I coach, NEVER leave action items in the other person’s court. Always, follow up.
Beser provides two examples of follow up emails, and they are well worth a read on how to follow up on meetings. And don’t forget to thank the other person for their time, sage advice, comments, or whatever.