This is a guest post from my friends over at SideKick. Enjoy!
When you get an email from someone asking for something, you’ll probably find that it’s all about them.
They’re asking for a favor, or for you to buy something, or for your time for a quick chat to get feedback on their project.
I got an email like that the other day. It looked something like this.
I just wanted to follow-up on an email I sent you last week about a project I’m working on. I would love to chat about it and see if you have any feedback for me.
Notice how many times John referred to himself. He said “I” or “me” a total of five times. He said “you” two times. The email was about him and how he can benefit.
I didn’t respond to him.
While it isn’t stated so explicitly, many follow-up emails tend to imply the question of, “Can I have something from you?”
People are generally more interested in how you can help them than the other way around. So when we write a follow-up email, how can we make it about them, but still make an ask that’s about us?
Show that you’re genuinely interested in them.
Here’s how John should’ve written the email if he wanted a response from me:
I just read that your company closed a huge deal today. Congratulations! That’s amazing.
Also, I found this article that I thought you’d be interested in [link]. I think it’d be really useful for what your team is trying to do.
I’d love to learn how I can help your company succeed even more. We chatted last week about a potential partnership and I wanted to get in touch to see if that’s still a possibility.
Do you have 15 minutes to chat on Thursday between noon-1pm? Would love to know how I can help your team and if we’re a good fit.
This follow-up email is effective because John,
- Starts the email off about me
- Provides something of value, in this case an article
- Frames the ask in terms of how he can help me
- Asks for a specific amount of time to chat
To make the email about the other person, you’ll need to do research. Has the company made any big announcements? Has the person published any blog posts recently? Find a piece of information that you can use to build rapport.
Then find out what this person would find useful, whether it be an article, or some software, or just answering a question they may have asked on Twitter. This way, you utilize the rule of reciprocity which states that in response to friendly actions, people are frequently much nicer and much more cooperative.
John continued to keep the focus on me by framing the ask in terms of how he could help me.
You’d likely be more interested in someone offering to do you a favor than someone asking you for a favor.
So make it about them!
At the end of the email, instead of simply asking, “When is a good time for you?” John offers a specific time to talk. This way, the decision is easier for me. I just has to say “Yes,” “No,” or offer another time that works, “How about at 3pm instead?”
The follow-up email is a crucial part of connecting with people and it can make or break a new relationship. Yet you probably receive numerous emails like the first one above that you just don’t want to respond to.
Follow the simple guidelines above to write a follow-up email that will get a response.
Want to learn more about email etiquette? Visit the email etiquette guide to learn more ways to send great emails.
David Ly Khim is a content marketer for Sidekick, a division of HubSpot all about email marketing and time management. Sidekick is an email tracking tool that lets you know when someone opens your email.