Master the follow-up email in 5 steps

You just rocked your last networking event. Your handshake was perfect, you wore that shirt that says “I’m approachable, and yes, hiring me is the best thing you’ll ever do this year”, and your bag is full of business cards from great new contacts. Great job.

But now you’re sitting at your computer ready to craft your “Nice to meet you” emails. You suddenly feel like you’re crafting an “I had a great time” message after a first date. You sit there mulling over how to craft the perfect message to lead to a conversation. You’re acutely aware of every word, comma, and space in your message. You read the same message over 16 times before deciding to wait another 20 minutes to read it another 16 times and never hit send. We get it.

If you’re struggling to write a follow-up email, we’ve got you covered with 5 steps to getting through the nerves and sending that email once and for all.

Step 1: Remember that the person receiving your email is just that - a person. Sure they may have an incredible career or know the email address of that person you’ve been trying to get in contact with for weeks. But at the end of the day, they eat, sleep, and breathe just like you. A good rule of thumb is to keep your email conversational, but respectful, just as you did during your conversation. If you wouldn’t say a phrase in person, it shouldn’t be used in your email.

Step 2: Include a reminder of where you met your new contact. We’ve all had those awkward run-ins with people you’ve met before and you can’t remember where you met them. Pay it forward and remind the reader where you met them so they spend less time thinking “Who is this?” and more time actually reading your email.

Step 3: Mention something specific from your conversation. Everyone wants to feel special, even through emails. Even if you had a quick conversation about the venue or didn’t get past the “So, what do you do?” conversation starter, mentioning something specific from your conversation shows that you paid attention. It will also make the person reading your email feel like they were special enough to be remembered even in such a small conversation. This is perfect for setting up your “ask” (see step 4).

Step 4: Get to your ask. Determine what you want out of sending your email. Do you want a connection to a new job lead? Meet up for coffee to get to know each other better? Or are you simply following post-networking etiquette? Knowing what you want out of your email will help you craft your message specifically for that person.

Step 5: Keep the email short. You would never send a 5-paragraph text message to someone after a great first date. The same rule applies here. With the number of emails we receive everyday, busy professionals spend less than 20 seconds reading each email. Make your email short and to the point to increase your chances of getting a response.

Bonus tip: If you’re scheduling a follow-up call, include a link to an online scheduler in the body of the email. Going back and forth via email to find a day and time that works for both of you is annoying. This link helps you skip all of that and get something in the books much faster.

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