How to Follow Up Without Being Annoying

Showbiz is the home of the pocket veto. You know, where you talk to some exec or other, because you initiated the contact or because you replied when s/he initiated it – but, wham! the exec takes forever to reply. Or even longer than forever. So we at TVWriter™ think this article is especially pertinent to, you know, us:

waiting-by-the-phone

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about his job search that went something like this:

Friend: I wrote to him last week and still haven’t heard back. It’s so frustrating.

Me: Why not follow up and check in?

Friend: I don’t want to be annoying.

I understand the fear. No one wants to be annoying or bothersome to a professional contact, especially when you want a job, meeting, sales dollars, or something else very important from that person.

But here’s the rub. The average person can get a few hundred emails a day. That makes it pretty tough to respond to all of them, and things naturally fall to the bottom of the list. If you don’t get a response, it doesn’t mean that someone’s ignoring you—it just may mean that he or she is too busy.

So, to the question: Should you follow up? Absolutely. In fact, it’s your job. And how often should you do so? My philosophy is: As many times as it takes. The important thing is to do it the right way. Or, as I call it, to be “pleasantly persistent.”

Here are a few tips on how to (nicely) follow up with that hiring manager, sales lead, or VIP—and get the answer you’re looking for.

Rule 1: Be Overly Polite and Humble

That seems obvious enough, but a lot of people take it personally when they don’t hear back from someone right away. Resist the urge to get upset or mad, and never take your feelings out in an email, saying something like, “You haven’t responded yet,” or “You ignored my first email.” Just maintain an extremely polite tone throughout the entire email thread. Showing that you’re friendly and that you understand how busy your contact is is a good way to keep him or her interested (and not mad).

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