How to write follow-up emails?

You have just submitted your resume, made a meaningful connection at a networking event, had a job interview, ended a business meeting or a phone call?

It might be time to think of the best strategy to achieve your initial goal with a follow-up email!


Why should I follow up?

A follow-up email is a message you will send to reinforce a previous action, to a connection after you had any interaction with them.

It serves different goals, usually to remind them of your conversation, help them remember you and take action toward what you could expect from them. It is also an excellent time to share information, documents or connections that can bring them added-value.

When you apply for a job, it is another opportunity to display your interest in the company and the position.


How should you follow up?

Timing is critical, and your strategy will be different according to your goals.

A follow-up email must be short and straight to the point. You should always expect your contact to be busy and therefore be respectful of their time. It should also contain the key points of what has been discussed or what should be done.


After submitting a resume

When to follow up?

Human resources teams and hiring managers can receive a large number of applications when opening a position, especially if your field has many candidates. You might want to give them some space and wait for a week or two before following up.


What to include?

As a subject line, you can use "Job Title - First Name Last Name."

The goal of your follow-up is to help your application stand out of resumes and cover letters pile. If it is a job you want, chances are there are probably a hundred other people going for it.


At that point, you only have information about the company and the job based on the posting. You may research further information about the company on their website, LinkedIn, the press, and use it to show you understand their current challenges and why you would be a great fit.


After a job interview

When to follow up?

Things are getting warm! When you had an interview, especially if you go further in the recruitment process, there is a genuine interest from people in the company to hire you. You want to show them you are interested and excited about potentially joining them, you can follow up within a few hours, or the next day!


What to include?

Your subject line should always be short, contain critical and personal information to remind the recruiter of you.

You have had an interview and met with people from the company; you should work on being creative and staying away from boring templates as Forbes would advise. You have gathered more information, and it is time to highlight the key challenges you would tackle for them. Briefly talking about one of your recent achievements in that field is a good way of enhancing your application. Showing you are thankful for meeting them and the time they gave you is always appreciated.


After you met someone in a networking event

When to follow up?

You may have spoken for a few minutes or an hour with a professional in your field, grabbed their contact information or business card and want to start building a long-term connection. It is a good idea to remind them of your discussion within 24 hours.

What to include?

Naming the event in the subject line is a must, alongside a few words to either hint at you or a part of the discussion you had.

The subject line has to reflect some of the email content, and when following up after a networking event, you should always go straight to the points that can be:

  • Remind your appreciation and essential details about the conversation.
  • Offer some help before asking for a favour. Give interesting information, link an article, share a contact name that might interest them according to your discussion.
  • Call to action: You certainly have a goal in mind, and it is time to focus on it. You can either ask for information, connect on LinkedIn, to schedule a 1-to-1 meeting or coffee interview.


After a business meeting or call

When to follow up?

You have called a prospect, met a client, or potential business partner, your business needs to let them keep track easily of your discussion and proposition. You should follow up right away or as soon as you have time to access your computer. According to leadfuze, you have seven times more conversion chances when following up within the first hour!


What to include?

The subject line can be pretty creative, depending on what you have understood from their challenge. It should stay straight forward with the critical information you will detail in the message. You can write it as a genuine compliment, a question - you will answer in the email - or something you offer them, such as a free trial.

Depending on the tone, you can include their first name or last name in the subject line as well.

When you have a lead, remember that following up multiple times and nurturing is key to eventually closing a deal!


Do not forget

Devil is in the details and regardless of the reason you are following up for, you might want to double-check your email is ready to send:

  • Edit & proofread: Always check for spelling, grammar and tone, your writing must be 100% professional!
  • Complete signature: Having them opening your email and reading it all the way is a success. The end of it should always display your full name, phone number and any other information that suits - LinkedIn link, personal or company website, email, position, title.
  • Call to action: You should always plan for the next steps, and asking for something, especially at the end of your email, will increase the chances of your contact helping you out.
  • Time & date: Increase your chances of being read, make sure to send your email on a business day and use the information you gathered to guess when they might have more time to open your message.

And remember, you will only get to send an efficient follow-up after some meaningful connections, such as people you will meet at the next CONNECTWorking, every first Tuesday of the month!

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Thibault is a passionate entrepreneur, product manager, and teacher in IT & health industries. He has started two companies, ran a non-profit, coached 15 founders, taught entrepreneurship in college. Always investing in relationships, his focus is now energy and climate.