Welp, I'm dealing with what is shaping up to be a lousy winter cold over here. (Hence this lovely, Pinterest-y photo I screen-grabbed from somebody's Snapchat.) Being nice and patient with myself and plodding through my to-do list in a Tortoise-and-the-Hare kind of way.
And in thinking about to-do lists, I've been thinking about how there are really two different lists I keep in my head from day to day. The first one is, of course, the master list of things I need to get done. The second one, though, is the list of things that really cannot wait another day. The list that must, must, must get done today.
And 99% of the time, that second list is pretty much comprised of follow-ups and follow-throughs.
When I was applying for one of my first real jobs ever, I sought out a meeting with this guy I found on LinkedIn. We went to lunch and chatted, and he told me to send him a portfolio of my writing. And then he said something funny. He said, "Alright, are you gonna do it? You have no idea how many people just don't follow up."
Which I thought was kind of odd. Why would you get as far as getting to meet with a contact or even a potential employer face-to-face and then screw it up just by not sending that one final email?
The first rule of all business communication--if not all communication ever--is that everybody likes somebody who says thank you.
If someone took 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes out of their day to sit and interview you, or to give you some advice, or to answer a question, or to forward your resume to a colleague: you owe that person a thank-you note within 24 hours of said act being done.
Period. But if the meeting went well, you probably owe them something else too. Like, in this lunch meeting I took. He asked me for a portfolio, right? So now I owe him a thank you and a portfolio.
And this is why I say follow-through instead of thank you note. Mine tend to look something like this:
Seriously, thanks so much for an awesome lunch meeting today. It was a wonderful help to have you straighten out my industry terminology, and to help me better understand exactly what I'm talking about when I say I want to work in marketing.
As per our discussion, I am going to get to work on tailoring my social media portfolio and resume. I've already done a little research on admirable examples I can replicate, and will have something to show you within the next week.
Alright, let's break it down quickly:
I thanked him for taking the time, and more specifically, I thanked him for a specific thing we spoke about.
I reiterated what he wanted from me (the social media portfolio and resume).
I gave a timeline on when he could expect to see that thing from me.
And I always sign these emails with "Speak soon" because that's exactly what it is--a segway into the next, and potentially more fruitful, conversation. Also, if there was already an email chain between the two of you, I write this note on that same thread. Less hassle, and you don't have to come up with a new subject line.
And it always, always, always, always gets sent within 24 hours of the meeting.
This may seem like a trivial email, but it will prove time and again to be one of the most important habits of your career. With a few simple sentences, you show that you can listen critically, that you can take direction, and that you know how to create your own to-do list and timeline. Swish, baby.
PS: Hit reply and tell me what's up with you this week. I love hearing from you all.
PPS: I released a new music video today. You can watch it here on YouTube or watch (and share!) it here on Facebook.