Friday Q&A: How to Follow up With Busy People
Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.
This week’s question comes via comment from Andrew Askins:
Before we get to “how” to follow up, let’s talk about why you need to.
A lot of people are hesitant to follow up because they think they’re being annoying.
But consider this: what if you’re not being annoying? What if you’re actually being helpful?
Here’s the thing: busy people are… well, busy.
If your email is short, clear, well-written and truly valuable for them (more on how to write those kinds of emails here), then the chance that your email slipped through the cracks of their packed schedule is far higher than the chance that they were annoyed by it.
Assume busyness rather than annoyance.
If you do that, then follow-up becomes much easier, as you’re actually doing them a favor.
(Sure, some people may be annoyed by your follow-up. You can’t make everyone happy. Hopefully they’ll respond with a “no” and you can both move on.)
Now, as for how to follow up: you have a lot of room to play here.
Try different things, depending on what you think the person will respond best to.
Some phrases that I use often that seem to work well are:
“Hey [name], I know you’re super busy, so just floating this back to your inbox in case it slipped through.”
“Hey [name], checking back on this. Let me know if you’re interested in [brief 5-7 word summary of my initial ask].”
“Hey [name], what do you think? No worries if this isn’t interesting to you at the moment, just let me know. Thanks!”
When you approach follow-up with the right mindset—that you’re delivering value, rather than “bugging”—you can write much more effective follow-up emails.
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