Photo Credit: nycprgirls.com
By: Jess Stefanowicz, Account Executive for The Ghana Cookbook
We all know how it goes. You find that perfect internship opportunity, a job opening that catches your eye, or you’ve scored the email address of a professional who you hope can one day become a mentor. You spend what feels like hours tweaking your resume, and constructing the perfect email. You click send, and constantly refresh your inbox the rest of the day awaiting a reply. And then you wait some more, and eventually it becomes weeks later when you finally come to the realization your email was lost in no-man’s land. It can be a crummy realization, but the fact is many industry professionals are getting hundreds of emails a day, and your email that you thought was perfectly crafted may not have been enough to grab the recipient’s attention. So how can you ensure that you’re doing everything you can to get that reply? You follow up.
I know what you may be thinking: ‘Won’t I come off as desperate?’ If they didn’t answer the first time, doesn’t that mean a no? The answer’s no! One thing I have learned in my time as an Account Executive and as an intern at a few different companies is that your follow up is often what can get you that response in your inbox.
The success of your initial contact and your follow up is all in the timing. I learned from one of my mentors that one should always try and follow “The 3 Day Rule.” Typically an initial email at the beginning of the week, on a Monday or Tuesday, gives you time to create a follow-up for that following Thursday or Friday, or maybe the next Monday. By waiting at least 3 days, you are giving ample amount of time for your sender to see your email and decide on a response time, without being too hasty in asking for a response or second look. Often, your email may be put in the “I’ll get to it later” pile (figuratively or literally) in your recipient’s inbox. Sending a follow up the next day or two after your initial email for something that is not urgent isn’t professional, and can come off as a little aggressive.
Furthermore, your follow up email should be very precise and serve only as a reminder that you have reached out previously to the recipient. You should never demand a response or ask directly if they got your email. Recap the most important parts of your initial email, opening the email with something along the lines of “I wanted to follow up with you on my initial inquiry this past Monday. I am (insert purpose here). I would love to connect with you and discuss this job opportunity/a meeting for coffee further.” A polite follow up email should present itself as a reminder that your initial email does exist, making it much more likely for the recipient to take a second to go back and give your outreach a more careful consideration.
Always remember that at the end of the day, your email does matter, and just because your response does not come in 24 hours does not mean it’s not important. With the right wording, and the right timing, the odds may end up working in your favor.