Follow Up Without Giving Up [QTMM 6/21/19]

Here's what a new client wrote to me this week: "Thanks for your patient prodding."

It wasn't the first time.

Not long ago someone else thanked me for my "patient persistence."

I'm simply following up, of course, but I'm not giving up.

Even when they don't respond for months, sometimes longer. Because that's what works.

All I do is send a simple, one-line email message that says: 

  • "Any progress on this yet?" or...
  • "Just checking in. I'm ready when you are." or...
  • "I'm still here. Is this project still on the table?"

I do this only with people I want to work with and with whom I have already discussed how we would work together. So I already know it's a good fit and I know they're interested.

Most people don't respond. But I don't care. The trick is to not take the silence personally.

How? I reach out and then I literally forget about them for a while. Then, when I think of them, I reach out. Then I forget about them again.

Eventually many come around -- if I am patient and persistent for long enough -- and more often than not, they do thank me for bugging them.

I wish I could give you a formula to follow. But each case is different. So you have to trust your gut, instead of listening to a voice that says, "They don't want to hear from me."

I'm not the only one who's had this experience.

Public speaking coach, Jezra Kaye, wrote, "I learned this trick from you 15 years ago and have been happily practicing it ever since. Last month, I gave a workshop on public speaking to the education department at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) after a process that stretched almost a year and involved several periods of no client contact for MONTHS. Every time I was tempted to close the file on this prospect, I remembered not to take the silence personally, reached out again, and finally, booked the workshop, which was a delight! Our prospects and clients have way too much on their plates, just like we do; but ultimately, if we stay in touch, wonderful things can happen!"

And Cheryl Smithem of Charleston PR & Design wrote, "Following up has earned us more business and helped clients stay on track. It's a simple tactic, and amazingly, very few employ it."

Try it, and let me know what wonderful things happen!

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