A critical element in making a difference in the lives of your coworkers and employees, as well as your customers, friends and family members, is follow-up. This act may seem so simple, but the simple act of following up will separate you from 90 percent of people. If you want to make a lasting impression on those around you, here are three rules of engagement to follow for keeping in touch:
Manage the Expectation
- Manage the Expectation
- Have a Sense of Urgency
- Stay in Touch (become addicted to writing notes)
With any follow-up, it is critical that you confirm with the person several things, including the format in which he or she prefers the information, the preferred channel of communication, the expected outcomes, and the preferred timeline. Does the person want to receive the information verbally, by email or by hard copy? What aspects of the information are most important to them? Make sure it’s that information that you cover first in your follow-up. What are the expected outcomes from the information? Your information can then be presented in a way to help achieve those outcomes. What is the person’s preferred method of communication – in person, over the phone, by email, by text, or by snail mail? Also, when something is due, ask for a deadline. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the deadline you receive is further out than the one you would set for yourself. When deadlines are set, it should be by what time, not by what day. “By Friday” may mean Thursday night to me and Friday at 5 p.m. to you. Words like “tomorrow” may mean the morning to me and midnight to you.
Have a Sense of Urgency
Never, ever, make a person wait. Develop a reputation of responsiveness and never be too busy to follow up on a request. While it is great to be creative, don’t get so stuck on what to say that you don’t get the response out. Why not follow up meetings with a bulleted email of what was discussed? This not only displays your urgency in responding, but validates that you actively listened.
Stay in Touch
(become addicted to writing notes)
We need to create an addiction to writing notes. There is a wonderful piece written on the art of writing notes by Cecilia Grimes of Etiquette Matters in Siler City. She explains that if you want your note to have the biggest impact, you should first tilt the note toward the recipient. Instead of saying, “I want to thank you,” start with, “You …” or “Your …” Then include details, illustrations and examples in the note versus a vague kudos. Using a variety of notes and interesting stamps can also make a difference. Lastly, challenge yourself with the words you choose to use. Use words like appreciate and grateful over thanks. Replace words like nice, good and wonderful with delightful, stimulating, captivating and inspiring.
Try to make all follow-up more customized to the specific individual with whom you are following up. I came across a continuum years ago in the book Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. The continuum displays how to make your follow-up more effective. We should challenge ourselves to be less programmed, blanketed, general and traditional in our response, and instead be more spontaneous, individual, specific and unique. The more effective we are at doing this, the greater the impact on the recipient. After all, people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Gary Greene is President of Greene Resources, Inc., a recruiting solutions firm, with offices in Raleigh and Wilmington that helps companies locate and land great talent. Greene Resources’ flexible business model is tailored precisely to meet your short- and long-term objectives. Its InStep methodology ensures that you consistently locate high-quality people who are productive over an extended period of time. With positions ranging from entry to management level, Greene Resources offers contract, contract-to-hire, and direct hire services as well as larger managed services programs. Greene Resources’ phone number is 910-251-0505 and website is www.greeneresources.com. Gary can be reached via email at [email protected].