Emails don’t get lost. They get forgotten. If you’re waiting for a response right now, chances are you won’t be getting one. You need to follow up.
I used to worry that follow up emails felt like nagging, but now I realize I’m usually grateful when people give me a nudge. It’s easy to lose track of the endless emails flooding my inbox. (I’ve tried to be disciplined about inbox zero a few times, but haven’t had much success.) These follow up emails put people back on my radar screen.
Here are six of my key ingredients for successful follow up emails:
- Remind the recipient of the context behind your original email. Be polite.
- Make it clear what you are asking of them. This should be concrete and easily described in one sentence max. Make it easy for them to check your request off their to do list.
- Make it easy to read. Short paragraphs that they can skip if they remember what you’re talking about are best.
- Provide them with some new relevant information that you didn’t include in your original email.
- Make their lives as easy as possible. For example, if you want them to introduce you to someone, you might want to write them a draft email that they can edit.
- (optional) Acknowledge that emails often get buried in email and that you just wanted to follow up.
In case you missed the theme of these tips … be clear about what you need and keep things simple.
In my experience it can sometimes take three or four emails to get a response. Don’t give up. Get creative and find ways to stay on people’s radar screens.