Avoid the Big, Fat, Follow Up Fail


Avoid the Follow Up Fail

Avoid the Follow Up Fail

We all fall down on our follow-up from time to time.  We’re human.  It happens.

However, I’m calling “Foul!” on the “Big, Fat, Follow-Up Fail” that happens when people lose sight of what follow up is all about.

A couple of weeks ago I received a call from a “nice chap” with a lovely British accent who was calling on behalf of “Julie Jones.” (names have been changed to protect the follow-up offenders)  I have to admit that the accent ALWAYS gets me to sit up and pay attention, so I listened to his introduction.  But, then he stammered a bit and said “Uh, she must have met you somewhere because she has your card.  So, she’d like you to call her.”

Sure.  You bet.  I’ll jump right on the phone and call someone I don’t know who can’t remember me or where we met and has someone else call me.

Big, Fat Follow-Up Fail!

I’m not against having an assistant reach out to schedule calls or make invitations on behalf of someone else.  It can help save time and keep you organized.  However, PLEASE get your stuff together before you do!

Let’s makeover this follow-up flub:

Can’t Remember Where You Met Someone?
So she can’t remember me or where we met. That’s ok – this happens to the best of us.  Which is why I always recommend writing a note on the back of a card or on a piece of paper attached to the card about where you met, what you discussed, what you intend to do with the connection – send info, email, call to get acquainted . . .

Whenever you attend an event, put all the cards you get into a stack with a paper around them with the dates, the event name, the venue and any other details then a rubber band to hold them all together or place in an envelope and seal.
(And you really don’t remember me?  Seriously?  I have crazy, curly red hair and bright fuchsia glasses AND, I almost always wear bright green to match my company color when I speak or go out networking.  Still nothing? )  

Social Media and Google Are Your Friends
So, before contacting me or having someone else contact me, go to my website.  Or go to any of my social media accounts that are listed on my card and my website.  You can learn a lot about me in 5 minutes or less.  Heck!  There’s even a photo or two of me to jog your memory!  

Facebook is great for this – you can look at someone’s profile and see who your mutual friends are.  On LinkedIn, you can also see my photo, review my profile and see our mutual connections.  That should give you a clue as to how perhaps we met as well.  Still nothing?  Check out the photos – I often upload albums from the events I attend and post photos of places I go.
Still nothing?

Be Humble, Be Humorous
Then, you need to approach it with some humor or humility.  Say something like . . . “Sorry, I seem to be having a senior moment about where we met.  I know you must be a fantastic person because I saved your card and your website is just GORGEOUS (or insert a genuine, positive compliment about their business, website or social profiles that you observe during your quick-less-than-5-minute-review of me) – so I’d love to re-connect and learn a bit more about what you do.  Would you be available for a quick call sometime next week?”

This type of approach – one of humor and/or humility coupled with doing your homework on me (in a quick 5 minutes or less) goes a long way in developing rapport and creating the potential for building a relationship.

Imagine how differently that interaction could have been if she had taken a more relationship-based approach?

How about you?  How do you prepare for following-up with people you meet?  Share your thoughts or your challenges in the comments below.

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    Speak Your Mind


  1. Great post! I got a phone call the other day from someone who was going on and on about how she had met me when she was part of such-and-such network, and was calling everyone she knew to reconnect since she’s left that group. Really?

    I had to ask her last name 3 times, she couldn’t give me a website, and when I asked her the name of her business and what she did, she kept stalling. She told me she was “looking to go international,” and I said that was great because I’m currently leading the Biztopia Challenge – a group of people from 20+ countries on 5 continents around the World. Then I told her that I had a client appointment (she never even asked if it was a good time), and told her she could call me the following morning if she wanted to connect, but I’d need her info then, including her website and/or Facebook page.

    Never heard back from her. But sometimes I wonder…was it just an HerbaLife scam?

    • Cathy Jennings says:

      Thanks, Amethyst!

      Have we lost basic manners somewhere along the way? I am still shocked by this type of behavior — and I experience it a lot since I attend a lot of networking events and conferences. Either that, or some REALLY bad advice is being given out as “networking tips.”

      I am all for reaching out to connect with people — especially by phone. We’re all inundated by emails and an actual phone conversation can be refreshing. However, first rule is to ALWAYS ask if “now is a good time” — be respectful of others.

      I really like that you had some “qualifying” info you asked for and set up a time to talk. Doing that will “weed out” people who are just being spammy and scammy.

      Good job!

  2. This is a nice presentation of how to (and how not to) follow up effectively. If you’re doing a big event today, this is probably top of mind for you!

  3. Love how you do the makeover and include the preparation tips. We recently had new business cards printed and left space on the back to make notes- could be for us to write a description of materials used in a necklace or for a contact to help them trigger memory. I must admit, I haven’t done much networking this year. Adding it to my 2015 list of business dos.

  4. Beth Blacker says:

    I totally agree with you! I always put the cards I collect in the same place when at an event and usually within 24 hours scan them using a card reading software that allows me to assign a category or “how we met” prompt. That way I always have that record and can very quickly do any follow up.

  5. Cathy- GREAT tips! It’s true, we are often busy and keeping track of every person in a networking event is quite the task. I love your piece of advice about rubber banding all cards from a specific event with the date and name of the event. Great tool for remembering and organizing! I’ll be using this in the future. Sharing this article for all of it’s wonderful advice!

    • Holly Jean — thanks for sharing the article — I appreciate it!

      As a speaker, I need to keep the cards attendees give me, so I’ve tried various ways of organizing them after events.

  6. Great article, very good advice! Truly enjoyed it.

  7. Thanks, Cathy, for your important notes on how to “Avoid the Big, Fat, Follow Up Fail.”

  8. Helloooooooo, yes, I am with you. I usually do what you indicated and write what they looked like, what they were wearing, distiguishable features or added notes on the card as well as what networking event I met them at. I then have a box with a card to separate each networking event I go to to help. Nothing like looking at a card and thinking… what did they do or why do I need to call them. Good post.

  9. I always add comments to the back of any business card I collect, with whatever personal details I have. Then I put them into my Outlook contacts and toss the cards. Who needs a gazillion cards cluttering up the place?