Chris McCann's Personal Blog

Life's too short to not do awesome things

The Secret to Success = Follow Up & 7 Tips for Effective Follow Up

with 8 comments

follow-up-san-francisco-bay-areaPhoto by Thomas Hawk

I just came home from an amazing weekend in the Bay Area. I started off by having dinner with Carson one of the founders of Innovation Quest and very successful serial entrepreneur, Eugene Lee one of the key employees of Tube Mogul, Ben Casnocha author of My Startup Life who I’ve wrote about previously, and Saket & Amit from BASES the leading entrepreneurial organization at Stanford.

Many people have asked me before how do you meet and stay connected with all of these incredible people? And today I want to share my #1 secret to life:

Secret to Life = Follow Up

Following up with people is such an easy concept to understand but is a very hard thing to do on a consistent basis. Just the simple act of following up separates you from 90% of everyone else out there and shows that you are committed and dedicated to what you are doing.

A great recent example of incredible follow up was from my new friend Saket Vora from the Stanford BASES program. I met him through my good friend Brian Riley yesterday in Palo Alto and we had great conversations about whether or not entrepreneurship was innate or learned, how universities can implement entrepreneurship programs, and about how BASES and Cal Poly could mutually benefit either.

I got back home this morning and within 12 hours of meeting him, Saket had already introduced me by email to Ricky Yean the new president of BASES and Ricky had sent a follow up email to set up call between us. Just that simple act of following up has given me 100x more respect for Saket and Ricky and makes me even more excited to work with them in the near future!

Here are my 7 tips on effective follow up:

  1. Make sure you take down the contact info of all interesting people you meet! It’s obvious, but on multiple occasions I’ve completely forgotten to ask for someone’s contact info, so don’t let this simple mistake hurt your follow up chances. Also don’t be afraid of asking for someone’s contact info even if they are famous/respected/seem busy/etc. People are just people, we all put our pants on in the morning, so never be afraid of meeting anyone no matter your background.
  2. After you have the interesting person’s contact info send a prompt follow up preferably that day or the next day. Follow up works best when its fresh in their memory and they remember who you are.
  3. DO NOT send a template follow up email. Take the time to craft a unique response to each person, a little bit of personalization will go a long way.
  4. In the follow up email refer to something you two talked about or had in common. This goes back to #3 and don’t have a generic emotionless follow up email, instead take the time to connect with the other person and refer back to your conversation in the follow up email.
  5. DO NOT PITCH IN YOUR FOLLOW UP EMAIL. I’ve made this mistake multiple times before and each time led to a disaster or lost connection. Don’t immediately pitch the other person in your follow up email about your business/product/program/etc. The goal should be to create a relationship with the other person not just sell them on what your working on.
  6. If you can follow up with an action item. I like to follow up with a question which greatly increases my chances of getting a response from my follow up.
  7. Write a boring but informative subject title. You don’t need to write the worlds most unique title but do make sure it is informative. I like to reference where we met and about the content in the email. For example here is a recent email subject I used:Cal Poly – DFJ Venture Challenge – Pitching Critique

In this subject I used where we met (Cal Poly), what I am following up about (DFJ Venture Challenge), and I reference what the email is about (Pitching Critique).

What are your best follow up practices? If you have tips or tricks to share leave a comment!


8 Responses

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  1. […] Chris wrote a post on the art of the follow up: The Secret to Success […]

  2. Great Blogpost. It is very important to follow up with people after you met. It is even harder to keep the contact after you follow up with them. I guess persistent is the key.

    Olina Qian

    January 14, 2010 at 1:05 am

  3. سلام…
    خيلي علي بود و مفيد اما….
    با تمام تلاشم دارم سعي مي كنم در پيگيري كردن كار متخصص و متبحر شود و به گفته آنتوني رابينز” اگر پيگير باشد هميشه راهي پيدا مي شود.
    خواهشا” من در راهم بيشتر كمك كنيد.


    March 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

  4. I loved your tips on effective follow-up. It is so true that following up as soon as possible after meeting is the most effective type of follow-up. Keep it fresh in their minds and then continue following up on a 5, 14, 30 day and on-going schedule. Amazing to me how many people drop the ball when it comes to follow-up. Your tip on asking a question was very interesting – it engages them and gives you the opportunity to learn more about them at the same time. Great article.

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