March 19, 2014

The 4 Essential Components of a Follow Up

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You realize that it's been a bit of time since you spoke with someone important in your circle, and you open your email to send them something. This person could be a friend, someone who bought a house from you, a mentor, a client, or just someone you want to keep in touch with. You then open your email and realize that you have no idea what to say.

Uh oh.

Starting a conversation with someone you haven't spoken to in a while is never easy. What do you say? How can you make it not look like the most generic email ever?

1. Personalization

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's important nonetheless. Think back at some of the better emails you've received. Does the send do a great job relating to you? Chances are, they do.

Personalizing an email or follow up with someone goes well beyond just making sure you use their name. Try mentioning a point you remember about the last conversation you had. If you're a real estate agent, try talking mentioning something your client was looking for in a home or apartment. If you're in banking, bring up something a client had a question about previously.

2. The value add

This might be the most important part of a follow up email. If you're looking to build a lasting relationship, it's far less about what they can do for than what you can do for them. Think back to the first point here and personalize. The internet is a large and expansive place, so use it to your advantage! There's always an article out there that anyone will find helpful, whether they're looking for a home, general tips, or just want to be entertained.

You should also consider an introduction as a way to boost the value of a follow up. And what better way to lend a helping hand than to introduce two people who would benefit from knowing each other? Don Fornes, CEO of Software Advice has a few tips on the best way to go about that:

"Everyone, particularly in the business world, wants to be the person that knows good people and brings them together. But, before you hit send on an introduction email, you should consider a few things. First, make sure you truly understand what each person has to offer and if making this connection will benefit both parties. Then, ask both parties if they're interested in being connected before you pull the plug. The idea here is that people are busy, especially executives, so be respectful of their time and make introductions that will put you in a favorable light. "

3. Next steps

Is there a next step? If there is, make it as clear as day that there is. Conversely, if not, make that clear as well.

Going into a follow up, you should have an end-goal in mind. And whether that's to just keep you top of mind, move something forward, or make an introduction make sure you know what that is before sending.

4. Brevity

And finally, keep it brief. This is the point of a follow up, is it not? No one wants to read an overlong email, so get in, get out, and get following up.