The interview follow up always gives people fits. And in my opinion, it’s harder than actually setting up the first meeting. The reason why it’s challenging is because follow up communication has to deliver some value. You’ve got to say something. I’ve received (and unfortunately sent) many meaningless post-meeting emails like the following: “Hi Mr. Jones, Just thought I’d send you a note to follow up. Best Regards, Dan”
What is the recipient supposed to do with this? After quickly deleting the message, what further motivation does your contact have to read your next email? There is zero value in sending a message like this because it says nothing. In an interview follow up, your objective should be to deliver sufficient value so that your contact looks forward to the next email you send. That’s how you’ll be remembered, and how you’ll get access to jobs in the hidden job market. So how can you deliver value? Students ask me this all the time. Here’s what I tell them:
The Interview Follow Up That Gets Results
Pay attention to what is revealed during small talk at the beginning of your first meeting. What’s going on in your contact’s personal life? Are they working through some issue with their kids? Are they trying to put together a vacation? Are they wrestling with some technology issue at work? These little challenges present an opportunity to be helpful. Who or what do you know that could be useful to your contact? A little follow up note including that information will build the relationship.
Did your contact graduate from your school? How connected is he or she to what’s going on? Alumni always like to hear about interesting things that are going on at the alma mater. Send a ‘did you hear?’ follow up note with something interesting that’s happening on campus. Invite your contact in to speak at an event your club might be holding.
Don’t forget that you have the vast resources of a university at your fingertips. Think of the access you have and the ways you might lever it to help your contact. Maybe he/she needs access to a database that your library subscribes to. Maybe he/she would like to connect with a professor or review a piece of research or write for a publication or figure out how to better market a book to international students!
When you can’t think of anything of specific value to offer in a follow up email, you can always rely on the “thinking of you” method. It’s really easy: Mention that something happened in your day today that made you think about your contact, or the conversation you had. People like to be thought of, and if you can connect the note to something in your conversation that your contact will likely remember, all the better.
In general, follow up notes need to be short, short, SHORT! Remind your contact who you are (very important), and get to the point, then get out. You don’t want your contact to see a note from you and delete it or defer it because he/she expects it to be long. Frequent and short follow up is the way to convenient and useful business relationships.