Follow Up Tips: What To Do When Your E-mail Goes Unanswered

A friend, Glenn, passed me this great article about the anxiety people experience when an e-mail goes unanswered. It talks about how our minds start racing with thoughts about what could be wrong. In short, we see “no news” as bad news.

E-mail Panic = Even Worse With Job Seekers

Anxiety from unanswered e-mails is especially prominent in job seekers. At least once a day, a client contacts me in a frustrated panic because the e-mail they sent days ago to a colleague, perspective networking contact, online application, recruiter, and so on hasn’t been answered. Each time, I walk them through the three tips that should be followed to increase the chances we get a response. They are:

1. Wait One Full Business Week Before Following Up

While it feels like months to you, to the person you sent the e-mail to, a week feels like a day. If they didn’t answer you yet, it just means you weren’t viewed as needing an immediate response. It doesn’t mean they are saying “no” to your request, they are just saying “not now.”

2. Never Send A Nudge On A Monday

Even the happiest of people feel a little off on Mondays. We call it the Weekend Flu, you might call it the Monday Blues. Regardless, it puts people in a mood to say “no” more quickly. So, even if it’s been a full business week, if it’s Monday – don’t do anything.

3. Send Value Next Time, Not Another Request For Help

When you finally do follow up, don’t send a, “Just wanted to check in and see if you got my request…” note. That’s like taking a hot poker and pushing it in their back. They know they haven’t responded to you, and they most likely don’t feel good about it. They don’t need you to point it out.

Instead, find an article online that you think they would find interesting and pass it along with a simple note like this: “Saw this article and thought of you – hope you enjoy it!” That’s it. You’ll be respected for your restraint from asking the obvious. Moreover, you’ll be appreciated for offering up something of professional value. As they say, you gotta give to get!

Follow the tips above and I guarantee more of your e-mails will get answered. While some may still ultimately say “no,” or never respond, the chances the folks who failed to respond initially will finally follow up increases when you are patient, polite, and most importantly, focused on helping them, too.

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