The best things come to those who follow up

They say that the early bird gets the worm. But worms are for the birds.

We’re not on the hunt for worms. We’re after new opportunities, strong relationships, and potential clients. We get all of these by being last.

By being there after the others have given up because their first email went unanswered.

In the business development context, it takes a sustained campaign of multiple interactions for a typical potential client to go from not knowing you exist to thinking of engaging you. Yet most of us give up after one or two attempts because we don’t want to be pests.

Why do we feel like pests? Because this is an asymmetrical situation.

You are the center of your universe (and quite rightly so), but the people you’re trying to connect with are the centers of their universes.

When you’re reaching out to someone, you spend a lot of deliberate effort on planning and executing. You think about what you’re going to do and say, you engage in the physical activities of writing or telephoning or going to an event, then you do at least some postmortem analysis. Even if you’re good at this stuff, it’s a lot of energy.

But look at your outreach attempts from your connections’ point of view. They may read your email or they may scroll right through it and miss it in their inboxes. They may ignore their voicemails right now, because they’re overwhelmed with other stuff, or they may listen while surfing the web, eating takeout sushi at their desks, with a portion of their brains occupied by their to-do lists. How much energy are they spending on your outreach efforts?

Just how major a pest can you be if your outreach isn’t even registering?

If you’re trying to achieve something that requires connecting with other people, the ball is always in your court.

So now you have a choice to make. Are you going to lob it over into your contact’s court again, or are you going to sit on it?

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