Nothing induces a world-weary sigh from working professionals like a “just checking in” email. They’re the bane of our inbox existence. Here are a few ways to make sure your follow-up incites action, not apathy.
What’s the problem with “just checking in” emails?
As a writer for a popular blog (this one) and a freelance PR professional, I get follow-up emails on the regular. They come in for different reasons, from different sources, but they all have something in common—the person sending them wants something.
The problem with “just checking in” is that it’s a smokescreen we all instantly see through. A check-in is an indirect request for our time or attention, and we find ourselves wishing the sender had gotten straight to the point.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a one-size-fits-all alternative to “just checking in?” Unfortunately, variations on that phrase (like “I’m following up on . . .”) all spark the same visceral response. We prefer a more straightforward approach.
When it’s time to follow up, It’s not a new phrase you need but an entirely new strategy. Here are a few unique ways to follow up without making your contact tune out.
Requesting Status Updates
Sometimes you need to know where a project or task stands. Although this is a perfectly good reason to check in via email, there are ways to avoid the “just checking in” language we all dread.
Drop the “checking in” wind-up and ask for an update politely and directly. Use the request for a status update as a call-to-action, and make it time sensitive so you’re more likely to get a response.
2 Open with context.
If you’re concerned that a task may have fallen through the cracks, start with a little context. It can be helpful to explain why the task is important to you, too.
— Glassdoor (@Glassdoor) July 5, 2018
3 Send a friendly reminder.
Emails get lost in busy inboxes. It happens. Your contact might appreciate a reminder that there’s still an open email chain needing attention.
Maintaining a Connection
Whether you’re networking or pursuing a sale, when you want to stay on your contact’s radar, begin with one of these approaches. If you’re hoping for a specific result, conclude with a CTA that points your contact at the next step and prompts action.
4 Offer something of value.
Even when you’re ultimately trying to get something, it can be helpful to give something useful as a lead-in.
A quiz plugin like [your app] could be the answer to the conversion problem you mentioned. Do you have a few minutes Tuesday at 2:30 Eastern to chat about it?
5 Reference a blog post they (or their company) published.
It’s likely you and your contacts and sales leads have some common interests. When a contact or their company posts something relevant to you, that’s a perfect reason to check in.
I’d love to meet for coffee this week to talk about potentially working together. Are you available Thursday at 10:30 a.m.?”
6 Drop a name.
It never hurts to mention the connections you and your contact have in common as long as they’re relevant to the ongoing conversation.
I could set you up with a free trial account. Then we could meet for a 15-minute video walk-through so you can see if [software] is the best solution for you. Should I make that happen?
7 Recommend an event you’re attending in their area.
There’s no better way to network than going to events, so why not invite your most valuable contacts to join you?