6 Lessons You Need To Learn Before Writing Your Next Follow-Up Email

by JOHN MUSCARELLO / Follow Me on Twitter Here

6 Lesson Follow Up EmailHas this ever happened to you?

You met a great person at a networking event and you had a great conversation. You send a follow-up email and get no response.

This used to happen to me all the time until a very smart person pointed out what I was doing wrong.

I made the whole follow-up email about how the other person could help ME!

I was reminded by my old ways when a reader sent me a follow-up email and asked why he didn’t get a response.

I’m going to break down where he went wrong (he gave me permission) and show you how to write a perfect follow-up email.

Ben’s Follow-Up Email

“I have a question about the post-networking

I have written an email to thank someone, but unfortunately I didn’t receive a reply. I thought we had a nice chat during the networking as both of us worked for the same company before. What should I do with it?

This is the email I wrote to her:

Dear Amy,

I enjoyed meeting you at last week’s networking session and talking with you about your company. Most of all, it was amazing to find out both of us used to work for Acme Company.

Since our conversation, I visited your website. I am very impressed by the work your company is doing and I would enjoy talking with you about it further.

Here are some questions I would like to ask,

  • When would be the suitable time period for me to apply for the 2014 summer internship? How many rounds of interview will be and what kind of interview will they be?
  • This might be a personal question, but I would like to find out if possible. What motivated you to join XYZ Accounting Company from Acme Company? What was the main difference/main challenge for you when you newly joined CVCI?

 I would benefit tremendously from your treasure trove of experience and I am very much looking forward to chatting with you again.

 Thanks,

Ben”

At first glance you might think Ben’s email is good:

  • He reminds her what they have in common
  • He visited the website before sending the email
  • He even asks about her career

But if you put yourself in Amy’s shoes you’ll find several mistakes that lead to her ignoring the email.

6 Lessons We Can Learn From Ben’s Follow-Up Email

Lesson One: Personalization is Essential

Dear Amy,

I enjoyed meeting you at last week’s networking session and talking with you about your company. 

  • Always include the name of the networking event where you met (people go to lots of events).
  • Include the name of the company where the person works.

When writing a networking follow-up email, you don’t want the person to think you sent the same email to everyone. Take the extra time to include where you met and the company name.

Lesson Two: Find Ways You Can Increase Credibility

Most of all, it was amazing to find out both of us used to work for Acme Company.  

  • This is a great line. You establish something you have in common, but you can take it a step further. Ask her if she knows a certain person at the company.

Knowing someone at the company increases your credibility. You could also, check to see if you have any common connections on LinkedIn.

Lesson Three: Make Your Call To Action Clear

Since our conversation, I visited your website. I am very impressed by the work your company is doing and I would enjoy talking with you about it further. 

  • Let her know what impressed you and why. It will show that you actually visited the website. Anyone can say, “I’m very impressed by the work your company has done.”
  • Don’t be vague with your ask! When would you like to talk? Next week? Next month? Over coffee? On the phone? 

Don’t create work for the other person! Suggest how you would like to communicate (Skype, email, coffee) and when.

Lesson Four: Be Patient and Don’t Ask For Something Right Away

Here are some questions I would like to ask, 

Never Try To Close On The First TransactionWhen would be the suitable time period for me to apply for the 2014 summer internship? How many rounds of interview will be and what kind of interview will be? 

  • You just met the person and your asking them about a potential job. You could probably find the answer to this on the company’s website. Don’t ask questions that you can easily find the answers to.
  • Secondly, you make it seem like you’re not interested in the internship if the process is long. Does it really matter how many rounds of interviews there are if you really want to work for the company?

Save any question about potential job opportunities for when you meet in person. As Gary Vaynerchuk would say, “Don’t pull the 19-year-old-dude move on social media. You should never try to close on the first transaction.”

Lesson Five: Keep The Questions Simple And To A Minimum

– This might be a personal question but I would like to find out if possible.  What motivated you to join XYZ Accounting from Acme Company? What was the main difference/main challenge for you when you newly joined XYZ Accounting? 

  • The question seems harmless, but why someone leaves a company can be very personal (bad boss, they were laid off, etc.).
  • Don’t focus on challenges people face in their career, especially if you don’t know them that well.

You don’t want to ask a question that could make the other person uncomfortable and have to focus on their challenges. Keep the questions to a minimum. You can ask more questions when you meet in person.

Lesson Six: Offer Value. It’s Not About YOU!

I would benefit tremendously from your treasure trove of experience and I am very much looking forward to chatting with you again.

  • Saying that you would “benefit tremendously” makes it sounds like you’re just using them. The email should focus on the other person be all about them and not how they can help you.

Focus on how the other person will benefit from meeting you. Not how you will benefit.

Let’s recap the lessons real quick:

6 Lessons for a Follow Up Email

If Ben Sent The Email Below, He Would Have Received a Response

“Dear Amy,

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Accounting Mixer last Wednesday. I really enjoyed talking with you about all the great work you are currently doing at XYZ Accounting. It’s really funny that we both worked at Acme Company. Do you happen to know Joe Jackson? He’s a really great guy and taught me a ton about accounting.

I visited XYZ Accounting’s website and the innovative work you did for ABC Corp was amazing. It would be great to hear how you broke into the accounting industry and the role you currently play at the company. Would you be up for meeting for coffee? There is a great coffee shop right by your office. Would you be able to break away for 15-20 minutes this Thursday at 2:00 PM? If not, I can make myself available anytime on Friday.

Best regards,

Ben

P.S. If you don’t know Joe, I would be happy to introduce you to him.”

Here’s How Each Lesson Is Incorporated Into The Follow-Up Email

  • Personalization is Essential: You remind them where you met and include the company name where Amy works.
  • Find Ways to Increase Credibility: You remind them that you worked at the same company and mention another person who works at the company.
  • Make Your Call To Action Clear: You ask to meet for coffee and give her two possible days to choose from.
  • Be Patient and Don’t Ask For Something Right Away: Instead of asking her about an internship, you ask her about her career. People love talking about themselves!
  • Keep The Questions Simple And To A Minimum: The only question you ask is if she will meet you for coffee.
  • Offer Value. It’s Not About YOU!: You offer to introduce her to Joe.

Once you go out for coffee and start talking about her career, then you can ask about the internship, if it makes sense.

You can say, “I noticed your company has a summer internship program. Do you have any advice on how I can increase my chances of being selected? I’d love to learn from some of the best and brightest in the industry”

After you meet, make sure you send a GREAT thank you note.

A poorly constructed follow-up email can ruin your chances of connecting with a person you met at an event. Include these lessons in your follow-up emails and you’ll get a response!

Leave a comment below and let me know your biggest take away from this article.

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{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Brian Robben

    I’m happy you pointed out personalization. I’ve found that too many people just copy and paste follow up emails without any specific details—big mistake. It’s all about quality over quantity when following up.

    Reply
  • Stacy Greens

    I enjoyed reading it. i think the most important one is personalization of email message. a reply shows how important that person is for you. and trust me you don’t want to disappoint a hiring manager with standard reply that fits everyone for all situations. that’s beyond wrong. its rude.

    Reply
  • George Hudson

    Thats a great example on how to write a correct follow-up email. Perfectly explained all the details. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Reply
  • Sam

    What do when one still follows your suggested tips and makes it the best and is still left hanging by the other person met or even worked with before and worse it is noticed how that person responds to others on FB, etc?

    Reply
    • John Muscarello

      If you emailed them maybe you should reach out to them on Facebook. If they are most active on Facebook then it will probably increase your chances. Also, realize that not everyone will get back to you. Sometimes people are super busy and the timing just isn’t right.

      Reply
  • Billy Tran

    Loved this post!

    Reply
  • Corine Sandifer

    Excellent. Thank you John.

    Reply

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