Following a small networking event with local startups connected to your industry, you send out an email to a potential future client about how nice it was to meet her, rehashing your conversation at the event, and proposing a new venture between your two companies.
A week passes, and you still haven’t heard back—that first email has gone AWOL and it’s looking like all that time you spent schmoozing was for nothing.
Does this scenario sound frustratingly familiar to you?
If you’re like most professionals these days, wearing multiple hats and meeting countless people means that you’ve probably experienced your share of head-banging-into-the-wall moments where an important email goes unheeded.
While one of the best ways to ensure a prompt reply is to treat others’ emails as you would want them to treat yours, sometimes setting a good example isn’t enough. Recently we sat down with Digital Media Guru Earle Richards, Business Operations Manager for custom men’s apparel company uSuit, and he shared some out-of-the-box ideas for clever and effective email follow-up.
Follow the 3 P’s: Persistent, Polite, and Positive
As a general rule to email correspondence, don’t dally too long with following up. While it’s smart to keep on your toes, respect the fact that whoever you’re emailing is just as busy as you are, so use common sense and don’t come off as pushy. Time kills all deals, but so does desperation. In a situation like this, do what Earle does: keep calm and follow up about how you can help someone, not just about how they can help you.
Make sure it sounds like you, not a robot.
One of the problems with email is that it’s too easy to end up sounding mechanical and unemotional. Barring the unfortunate possibility that you’re literally an office cyborg, if you get in touch with someone via email, sound like yourself, not a robot. Says Earle: “I think the more fun you have and the more humor you show, no matter what type of communication it is, the more people want to work with you.” This doesn’t mean you have to use humor—if you both happen to be huge fans of Game of Thrones or some other popular TV show, it could be just as effective to throw in a blurb about how you’re really looking forward to seeing if so-and-so finally gets what’s coming to them in the next episode.
Don’t be afraid to use GIFS!
Whether you know someone well or not, a well-placed funny GIF such as the ones below from Giphy.com can only put a smile on the face of whomever you’re trying to reach. We’re talking about sharing a GIF here, not mixing hazardous chemicals. As long as it’s not a super obscure reference or a joke that pushes good taste it probably won’t explode in your face–you don’t need to overthink it.
In fact, it can’t hurt to keep a GIF library handy for the next time you’re sending out a follow-up email. According to Earle, a self-confessed “Google ninja,” finding the perfect GIF is as easy as doing a Google Images search, and Giphy.com is a great alternative as well. We’ve moved past relying on mere words to get the point across in casual conversation, so why stick exclusively to them when writing emails?
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many people simply missed your e-mail and appreciate the light-hearted follow-up. Humor won’t necessarily seal a deal, but it will make you more likeable, and that will lead to positive results. As Earle says, people like to do business with other people that they like. So don’t be afraid to incorporate a little humor in your emails. It will ease the awkwardness of communication, get you a faster reply, and maybe even be the je nais se quoi that gets a new client to commit to you instead of the competition.
If you’ve never tried sending a GIF in an email follow-up before, why not try it out? What other tried-and-true email follow-up tactics do you use? Leave a comment and let us know!