When we don't follow up, work can slip through the cracks and not be completed. Read the importance of follow up.

Do you ever wonder what happens to your application, proposal, resume or report after you hit send?

Anyone that works on the Internet or uses email for that matter knows what it’s like to send something and feel like it’s been lost in cyberspace.

You send out your precious information. Then nada, nothing, zip.

Years ago I completed a course on pitching to magazines. There were two key actions involved; a phone call and an email.

You either rang them with your idea and then emailed the pitch if they agreed or you emailed the pitch and then rang them to follow up.

This process seems easy enough, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, many of us can occasionally skip one of these important steps.

The all-important follow-up.

If you could benefit from a more consistent follow-up strategy, these 10 points can help.

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Schedule time to follow up

Often the biggest problems with following up are that we get busy working on other projects and simply forget. 

With this in mind, you need to schedule a date and time for each important follow-up.

Set a reminder in your calendar, phone, or whatever planning tool you use to make sure you don’t forget.

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Follow up in a timely manner

You schedule your follow-ups so that you don’t forget or so that you won’t remember eight weeks after you sent the original request.

Often we do remember but too much time has come and gone, so we don’t bother.

As part of your scheduling process make sure the follow-up date is relevant to each situation.

Do it

This is the part where you actually ring the company or individual and ask them if they are interested in your proposal or offer.

This is a part many people simply don’t do. By not following up you are doing yourself an injustice.

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Give them time to respond

You’ve sent off your application. Excellent!

Then you send an email the next day asking how you went. Wrong!

While some positions, particularly writing positions, do have a quick turnaround time, they are normally not that quick.

If you are working in different time zones, you need to factor in the difference in time and days.

If you are in Australia obsessively checking your emails Monday morning regarding a request you sent off to someone in the United States you need to realize their weekend isn’t over yet. They could be enjoying time with family, while you are stressing over why you haven’t had a response yet.

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Jump the queue

Recently I have been applying for part-time admin roles (as well as writing jobs).

The response times for the admin positions are quite long. Between sending off my application and receiving an email advising they had filled the position can take well over a month.

One way around waiting is to allow an appropriate amount of time after the position was posted and then ring up and ask if they have completed all of the interviews. If the interviews are completed and you don’t get a call, you know you are not in the running.

When that email arrives weeks later advising you weren’t successful, it won’t be a surprise.

Don’t hound people

Some people go nuts with the follow-up. They turn into a cyber stalker, shooting off emails with reckless abandon.

Most likely the only thing this will achieve is annoying someone.

Don’t do it. It will get you noticed for all of the wrong reasons, ruining any opportunity you may have had.

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Don’t assume no response means NO

All too often we don’t hear back and assume no reply definitely means no. This is not always the case.

Make the follow-up phone call. If a phone call isn’t possible, try email again.

You would be surprised how many emails get overlooked, so don’t assume your email has been read and rejected. They may not have even gotten around to reading it yet.

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Move on to the next task

Under no circumstances do you sit around putting off other projects waiting for a reply. Move straight to your next task.

It’s hard, I know because I have done this myself, but resist the urge to give yourself RSI checking your inbox 50 times a day. Set yourself a designated time to check email each day and then leave it at that.

Don’t turn into an OCD email checker. Let’s face it; you have plenty of other things to do.

With that in mind, the opposite could also be true. Perhaps you hardly ever check your emails. If you have an email address, make sure you check it regularly. The regularity will be based on the reason the email account was set up.  A Yahoo account set up for personal or travel purposes doesn’t need to be checked as often. A business email address is a whole different matter.

You don’t want to be missing important emails.

The same goes for the inbox on your phone. If you are applying for any sort of position or opportunity and you supplied your mobile number make sure you check your phone for messages.

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Accept there may be no response

In some situations, you have to accept that only successful proposals get a reply. If you were not successful, you will NEVER get a response.

When submitting writing work to websites or applying for jobs, you may get an automated message stating that if you don’t hear from them your application was unsuccessful.

With high volumes of email traffic, they need to set up these auto-respond messages. A good thing about these auto-responders, you know they received your email in the first place.

Sometimes there simply won’t be an answer.

It can be frustrating but also part of doing business.

Find out why

As I mentioned, I have been applying for part-time admin roles. When I haven’t been asked to interview, my friends suggested I call to find out why.

In my situation, I knew when I applied I wasn’t an exact fit (I was close but I didn’t have everything they were after). I didn’t ask why because I didn’t need to. I understood they had found their exact fit.

However, if you do want some feedback or you were an exact fit, it might pay to give the person a call or send them an email. Be polite, and brief, and understand you might not get a reply. I wouldn’t do this in all cases, to be honest. Use your discretion on this one.

Your job is to know what needs follow-up and what doesn’t. Once you have that worked out, make sure you follow through.

I hope this spurs you on to take action and make those important follow-up calls and emails.

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