The Art Of The Follow Up

Almost every young adult that I coach today when inquired about how they plan to follow up says, “I don’t want to bother them.” “I don’t want to be a stalker.” “I hope they call me back.

Here is a news flash, no one will be calling you back unless you make it a point to do so.

In my 30 years as a public relations and marketing expert, the art of the follow-up was the only way to get an answer, whether my client would be on Good Morning America or The New York Times.

I remember once I had an employee who when asked ”Did you follow up?” Indicated with pride that she did. When I inquired further what did the person say? She indicated, “I left a message.” With that, I responded, “You're fired!

Now I know some of you are thinking that my response was harsh, but here is the reality no one is thinking about you when you leave a message, no one is thinking of you after they get your email, no one is thinking of you to call you back unless there is an immense value you are bringing to the table.

What is your value? That is something for you to determine. It could be the following:

• You have a tremendous background in the field.
• You have contacts that could help the potential employer or business expand.
• You know someone that knows them and you feel compelled to make that connection.
• You have worked for a similar company or competitor and are responding to their job opportunity and would love to chat further.
• You have been in a similar field and feel compelled to reach out to share your insights.

So what are the best approaches to following up? Once you have written your email, connected through LinkedIn, texted, or responded to a career opportunity, here are the 4 best ways to follow up.

Rules of an effective Follow up

  1. As I mentioned above, bring value. Make sure that every time you contact, you bring value to the conversation. It could be sharing an interesting article, or introducing someone.
  2. Timing is crucial. Most people follow up the day after, instead. I recommend following up the same day when the memory of you is fresh.
  3. Frequency. Be tenacious, don’t be afraid to bother people. Corporate America responds to emails within 24 hours, except for weekends depending on the industry. Don’t be afraid to email the day after with a note like “I just wanted to make sure I didn’t land in your SPAM folder”.
  4. Reintroduce yourself, your authority, credentials. Specify where you met or follow up with some memorable moment in the conversation.
  5. Be specific about what you want from the follow-up, make a Call To Action. “I’d love to take coffee some time. I am available X day at X time, but I’m happy to work around your schedule.”

4 Examples of amazing followings

Example 1

Hi Stan,

It was a pleasure having spoken to you today about the job opportunity and position with your company. I wanted to follow up today as we spoke, to let you know that I am interested in this position and would love the opportunity to speak further about how we can move forward.

In our conversation, you mentioned that you would like to meet Daniel at Company, I would be happy to make that introduction. I would be happy to make myself available on Tuesday, April 11th at 10:30 a.m., and Wednesday, April 12th at 4:00 p.m. however, I would be happy to work around your schedule and convenience.

I look forward to sharing this information with you that I know will help you to expand your company.

Example 2

Hi Susie,

Thank you for the amazing conversation. I truly enjoyed our talk this afternoon and look forward to speaking further about this position with your company.

What synergy! I can’t believe that you attended USC, studied abroad in Barcelona and your first job was with Real Life PR and Marketing. The exact path that I have been on even down to working at the same firm. I wish I had known you then as I am sure we would have enjoyed a drink after work together.

With that being said, I hope that I was able to convey my passion for your company and I look forward to bringing you my skill set and knowledge of the industry to you. I am happy to speak with your HR person to get the ball rolling and if in the meantime I can answer any further questions please don’t hesitate to reach out. I can make myself available on (date and time) however, I would be happy to work around your busy schedule. Again, thank you for sharing yourself with me and I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you as a junior account executive.

Example 3

Dear Mr. Hartman, 

It was such a pleasure meeting you to discuss the position of marketing director. As I mentioned in our conversation over the phone, since I was 10 years old I always had the ability to share thoughts and ideas with others and get them to buy into my concepts that will help them to enrich their lives. It is my passion to bring your clients to their rightful place and as I mentioned I have the ability to do just that with my ability to bring forth ideas and concepts and bring them to market in a unique and profitable manner. 

I look forward to continuing our vital conversation and appreciate your time in your busy schedule to meet with me. I look forward to the final word on Monday, April 11th, and look forward to the next steps. 

Thank you again,

Susan.

Example 4

Dear Hugo,

Allan, your cousin who works for your company spoke so highly of you. I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me as Allan and I have known each other for over 10 years now and in that time we have established an amazing working relationship as well as a friendship.

Allan indicated that when you were growing up you two loved to go fishing. Especially deep water fishing. I found that amazing, as for over 4 years now my family and I go deep water fishing off the coast of the Bahamas. Have you ever heard or been to Atlantis?

I am reaching out as Allan indicated that my background in the food industry might be of benefit to you as you grow your restaurant. In the past 5 years, I have worked at Casa D’Angelo, Pura Vida, and Raw Kitchen where I was responsible for managing the restaurant and growing it to over $5 million in revenue in the past two years. 

I welcome the opportunity to speak with you further as to how I can help you achieve your objectives and goals. I will reach out to Allan and perhaps we can continue to conversation at your offices next week? Thank you again for allowing me to come back in and show you the value I know I can bring to your restaurant.

Regards,

Micheal.

Never give up!

Never give up until you get a yes or a no. Follow up each and every time you pick up the phone or write an email. Bring added value, bring a new concept, bring a new idea, bring another mutual connection. Find out all about who you have just interviewed. Bring the conversation and what you gleaned out of it in your follow-up email or conversation. But above all, don’t leave a message. Be the message that will get you hired. 

What are we afraid of?

The other night I had a mini-webinar on The Ten Steps To Finding Your Dream Career. What struck me after my webinar had concluded is how many young adults and adults alike are afraid of showing themselves when they are interviewing or connecting with people who can assist in their career search.

One young woman, a bubbly, outgoing, energetic young woman, Susie indicated that while she has two degree’s from two top universities when she is interviewing she becomes a robot. I was stunned that that is how she referred herself to in the interviewing process. How does one lose themselves when being asked questions about themselves? I am not a psychologist, nor do I choose to present I am one, but after several years as a career coach, I have come to discover that without knowing who we are at our core, or our stories there is no way we can show up as ourselves in an interview.

Let's take Scott ...

In the group coaching session, I asked my proverbial question, "Why brought you joy, happiness, and passion when you were in your room losing sight of time until your Mother called you for dinner?” Scott answered, "I loved doing puzzles, the harder, the better."

I asked what he wanted to pursue as a career path and he gladly answered "statistics."

I asked what his story would be if an interviewer asked, “ What are your strengths or Tell me a little about yourself.” He answered in the staccato way most young adults answer, “I like statistics because I am good at…" however, after having done the TA-DA question, at that moment, he realized the connection between doing puzzles is where his passion for statistics originated and could now answer, "Ever since I was 5 I loved doing puzzles, I especially loved the ones with 1,000 pieces, being in the field of data analytic and statistics I can continue my passion for putting together 'puzzle' pieces."

Overcoming the imposter syndrome

I have been working with an amazing young man that is planning to become a Vascular Surgeon and has had several opportunities to interview at several prestigious hospitals throughout the state. When it came to the question, "Tell me about yourself” he would wavier and redirect.

Finally I asked, is it difficult to talk about yourself?” He answered "YES". I asked why? He answered, “I have 'imposter syndrome' I don’t feel I am really good enough for any of these hospitals and I am up against such great candidates." Through our work, I was able to show him that he was good enough and as we went back into his childhood, he was the son and brother everyone looked up to. He was the one that led his team of interns to create a great hospital by implementing protocols that helped with doctor moral and implementation.

Once he was able to SEE who he was, the imposter imploded and was replaced with someone greatly capable and brought value to the interviewing doctors. He was able to reach great rapport with them and stood out among the other candidates.

Own your story

You weren’t afraid of saying you loved puzzles, or drawing or baking when you were a kid, why would you be afraid to share your passion now?

"The words you speak become the house you live in." - Hafiz

Once we are able to tap into our childhood and bring out our authentic and true nature we will oftentimes find that there is a correlation to our passion and our pursuits. Often times it gets buried beneath the societal rumble of you should be this, you would be good at this, why don’t you pursue this… and we move away from our true desires and most importantly who we were put on this earth to do.

In NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programing, there is the “Swish” exercise where you put what you no longer want in your life and make it small in your subconscious until you are able to make the Swish from what you don’t want to what you do want. With subliminal messaging and linguistics, you can change a person’s conscious thoughts through unprogramming their unconscious.

The saying by Winston Churchill, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” as he was sending his troops into battle is the same for every young adult going out into their careers. If we go out with fear then we will be met with the possibility of being shot down, if we go into it with confidence, conviction and a knowing of who we are and what we stand for the outcome becomes a victory.

What are you afraid of? If this narrative is resonating with you, perhaps it is time for a GPS in your life. Someone, like a coach, who can help you to get to the finish line and help you make a career touch down.

5 steps to turn your job interview into a conversation

When it comes to job interviewing today, a new dawn has risen. It is no longer the interviewer against the interviewee, but rather, “Let’s talk.” Let’s connect and see if I like you. Can I work with you? Can you and I grab a drink after work? Are you someone who I vibe with?

There is so much more that goes into grabbing a piece of the career pie. I am hungry to work here. I am hungry to learn all there is to learn about the business or industry. If so, let’s get to know each other. Here are the 5 steps to turn your interview into a conversation and actually find you like the person you are interviewing with.

The first thing is to create rapport. Rapport is an instantaneous way of creating and building a connection. Here are 5 steps to making a first great impression and getting the conversation started. 

Let’s Get This Conversation Started:

Step 1: Dress to Impress. 

Dress in the role you are applying for. If you know or have a photo of whom you will be interviewing with, match their style. If you are applying for a career in law, finance, or social work the old norms still apply. Conservative dress, typically black pantsuit with a white crisp button-down shirt or a black or navy dress or skirt. For music careers, a more relaxed but chic dress will be appropriate. Choose a solid color like red, navy, black, or yellow as those are power colors and make you memorable. Leave off any logos and no stains on your clothes. 

Step 2: Relax and Be Your Authentic Self. Bring your value

Treat your upcoming interviews like a talk with a friend or acquaintance, or at a party and have connected with someone you really like. Do your research and find out some interesting background where you and your hiring manager have common interests. Perhaps she is an avid tennis player and you were caption of your tennis team. Some questions maybe I see you play tennis, I was the caption of my team. Do you prefer singles or doubles? Give a fun fact about your experience playing tennis. How much you love going to the US Open or that your greatest experience was watching Serena play at Wimbledon. 

Perhaps you are applying for a position in music, sharing your love of music and specific genres, concerts, etc. The key to connecting is to weave your value with your background with specifics that paint a picture.

Step 3: Tell Your Story:

How to make the preverbal questions into stories?

When the question  is posed, “ Tell me a little about yourself?” or “ What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Do not answer with, “I am good at organization, working with others, and making coffee… a story captures the moment you knew you were made for the position. A story tells others who you are. For example: “I’m so glad you asked, I guess I was made for this Example: I’m so glad you asked that question because when I was 16, I remember how much joy and happiness I had knowing that I was helping someone find their purpose. I loved talking to my cousin for hours. I always felt I had an innate sense of what other people were going through and used my intuition to help guide me to reaching sound guidance for them.

When asked what are your strengths, most young adults will answer with their one-line answers like: 1. I‘m good at organization, planning and entrepreneurship. A better approach is to tell a story. I believe I realized my strength came from when I was 5 years old and I wanted to buy food in the school cafeteria, but my mom wouldn’t allow me. So instead, she made me salami sandwiches. I would sell the idea that it is too bad my friends had to buy pizza and hot dogs. Soon I had all the kids lined up to buy the exclusive and delicious salami. They would line up and pay me $5.00 per slice. Soon my Dora Explorer backpack was brimming with $20.00 from all the kids who paid me to eat my salami slices. My mom died when I told her what I had done. I knew I was great at sales from that day on.  This allowed Sofia to illustrate that her strength comes from herself and real-life experiential experience was literally part of her DNA.

Step 4: Show What You Know

What do you know about the industry?

  1. Do your homework. Find out what the company is about. Maybe come up with ideas that might bring value to it. I love the way your company does outreach, but I was thinking I would love to see if we did this… if we could lower the costs of…
  2. Perhaps you have had some connections that the interviewer might be connected to as well. Bring these names into the conversation. I saw on LInkedin, you are connected to Susan Smith. Susan was my teacher at University and I actually had the opportunity to help her design her curriculum which brought in the most students that semester. She said to say hi if I had the opportunity to meet you.
  3. Lastly, indicate that you are already working there. Instead of saying, If I have the opportunity, or if I could work here. I love the fact that when I work her I will be able to bring in all the value added qualities. I can see working here I will be able to…

Step 5: Close the deal

Lastly, let the interviewer know that you truly enjoyed your conversation and hope that he/she could see the value you bring. Immediately upon departure, you will write a thank you note that indicates the specific narratives that you discussed. Pick one or two specific communications that you can playback to illustrate that the conversation was meaningful. For example: I truly enjoyed talking about your new puppy Rover. I hope the training goes well. Or I truly enjoyed our conversation about Sting. I will definitely send you a text when I find out when he is coming to town so you can get tickets. I truly enjoyed our conversation of where the world is going and I loved our common viewpoints on climate change. I hope to bring that narrative into this company so that we can collectively make a real change. 

Remember, turning an interview into a conversation is the best way to make a long-lasting connection that when working together will help you to build on the rapport for years to come.

How To Make Your Resume Stand Out: Tell A Story

How Sofia, without solid experience, landed each one of the 5 interviews she went to.

When I met Sofia, she was a beautiful, bubbly and outgoing young girl. She had just graduated from FSU Florida State University and was working as a front desk person at the Ritz Carlton in Miami. She loved and wanted to be in sales. However, her resume was spotty when it came to sales.

Something inside me said, ask her who she was as a child, and out came one of the most iconic answers I have ever heard.

Well, when I was 5 years old, my mother opened up my Dora Explorer backpack, and out came $20 bills. She looked at me in confusion and with a stern voice asked "how the hell did a 5-year-old in kindergarden get so much money?"

I had to fess up. I responded, with a quiver in my voice, that I always wanted to buy food in the cafeteria, but she wouldn’t let me. Every day she made me salami sandwich’s and would put 5 slices of salami in white bread. When I got to school, I would do a whole sales pitch on how lucky I was to have this incredible Italian salami sandwich but they had to eat pizza and hot dogs. Soon I had everyone lined up and I sold each slice for $5! 

I was blown away! This story clearly illustrated her “thinking.” Selling wasn’t through internships or jobs or wanting to sell, it was in her DNA!!!!

When potential employers would ask, “Tell me a little about yourself?” This story became her signature. She went on to interviews at 5 sales opportunities and landed each one. Sofia now works at a television station in sales in Tampa, Florida.

Reframing the resumes

Resumes today are a conversation starter. The days of being interviewed where it feels like me against the interviewer are gone. Today, interviewers are looking for individuals who make them feel something. Like Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.

Do you know how to communicate what you feel? Can you convey your passion? Do you know what your passion is? Do you know what your strength and weakness are? If you typically answer, “I am really good at managing people, organization and like research", then you are using words that convey your talents without feeling them or being able to express them in a story that shows a company your passion and your value. 

Typically, there are three distinct areas of questioning that most employers or companies use to assess:

Basic:

Behavioral:

Career:

If you get anxious or nervous it is because you might not know what they are asking. You are in your head and your ego is telling you to answer it correctly or you will not get the job. What most young people don’t understand, that your story tells volumes of who you are and what kind of person they are going to be hiring. It is not about the answers, it’s about YOU!

Depending on your industry a branded resume that stands out is essential. For others in finance, law, and medicine, a straightforward resume is a must. Do you know the difference? 

In addition, your resume is your calling card but it holds your story. You want to weave a consistent thread through the question of Who Are You through to What Have You Done to illustrate your passions and your pursuits. Your resume MUST tell a story. Do you know the leading verbiage to use when writing your resume? 

Don't use words like:

Instead:

Today’s resumes are an extension of who you are and not so much of what you have done in your life thus far. It is also a part of the overall strategy it takes to find your dream career and it starts with finding out Who You Are and where you want to go. You can get there but sometimes a little GPS to get you there smarter not harder is the way to start.

If you can’t find your passion, go back to your childhood and find it!

As a child, growing up, my father would often prophesize ”Debra find your passion and something you love, get really good at it and the money will come.” 

When he would try to explain this to me I didn’t quite grasp what the hell he was even talking about. 

What does passion even look like? ” I wondered.

Passion for Sofia was finding out, three months before she graduated from Syracuse University, that she wanted to be in music. The problem was, Sofia has never taken on class in music, she was not on the music paper or magazine.

We got to work.

Together, we unveiled a powerful memory. Sofia remembered, at 8 years old, how her father would take her to concerts as he owned a shipping company for artists on the road. There she sat atop one of the large roadie-type cargo that held guitars and there, her father took the guitar out and handed it to Paul McCartney. It was in that moment, that Sofia realized that music was a business.

Sofia and I started working on how to sell this story to connect with people in the industry. Not surprisingly, Sofia landed her dream career at a music publishing company in Los Angeles thriving by following her passion for music.

Since high school, Brooke knew she wanted to be an Ophthalmologist. Every summer she would shadow an eye doctor and would feel like she was going through the motions. Then one day while taking her Ophthalmology exam she experienced a panic attack and walked out of the exam.

Upon further examination, she realized that she LOVED fashion. She wanted to be a fashion influencer and work in the fashion industry. Having had no experience and only her passion for the profession, we fashioned a resume and story around her love of fashion and various aspects where she pursued her passion for fashion. Within two weeks, we found her a career in fashion as a buyer and stylist for an upscale retail establishment and showroom. 

Brandon graduated from Buffalo University in healthcare. His dream was to work at the top-rated hospital in New York City, Memorial Sloan Kettering. He had interviewed there the previous year but was rejected. When we found his story about his mom having breast cancer and he saw as a young child the care his mom received there with the doctors and nurses we crafted a story that was authentic and he landed two interviews and landed his dream career there. 

What is like to turn your passion into profit.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel”

Maya Angelou

Here is what Sofia, Brooke, and Brandon understood about following their passion:

  1. Be authentic in how you convey your dream career.
  2. Find your passion and craft, tell and sell your story to potential employers or companies.
  3. Drop the story in your body so when you are talking you are not in your head.
  4. Make interviewing a conversation you are having with someone you really like or want to get to know and you want them to get to know you.

Why you don’t know your passion and where to start.

We are passionate beings by nature. Not knowing your passion is ultimately a problem of not knowing yourself enough. Because of our life experiences, we have limiting beliefs about ourselves. 

Around middle school, our passions pivot into pursuits for outward gain. It is no longer acceptable to be alone with our passion pursuits. Our personal passions turn into activities that are pursued because of our parents, our teachers, or clubs and other obligations that turned into reasons outside of ourselves. 

It may have been to get into a prep school or a great college. It may have been to put internships on our resume. It may have been because that job paid a lot of money. For whatever reason, many of us have pursued things that may have provided us with security, great cocktail talk, bragging rights but did it bring you happiness.

How to know your passions?

Passion is within you. You just forgot. To find passion, you need to go back to who you were as a kid.  

What was the moment in our childhood that sparked our joy and happiness? Where moments ticked by without looking at the clock until your mom called for dinner?

Passion is the moments in your life where you were one with yourself and your instinct to pursue an activity that became lost in time. 

Go ahead and download my TA-DA! List, an insightful tool I created to help you brainstorm about your passion and you inherit talents. 

As you go on this journey, you will wonder things like: 

Don’t worry about that for now. Trust the journey. There are many ways in which you can live your passion. But the first thing is to get out of the automatic pilot and put intentionality in your life. 

By going back we can access our true calling, the one that filled us up.