Thursday, February 1, 2018

How to Write a Proper Follow-Up Email After You've Been 'Ghosted'

You’re bound to get inbox-ghosted during your career. And if my experience is any indication, it’s bound to happen more than once.

But what are you supposed to do when all you get from a well-crafted email is radio silence? At what point does it go from persistence to nagging? To help you navigate the muddy waters of following up with someone who isn’t responding to you, let’s talk about all the people who will probably leave you hanging outside your office.

Your Former Co-worker You’d Like a Favor From

Maybe you’re bad at math and someone you used to work with is a whiz. Or maybe, and this is hypothetical now, you know that a former teammate writes for a particular website and hasn’t gotten back to you with resume suggestions (to that person, I’m very sorry). Your ex-teammates probably mean well, but either way, they’re ghosting you--and it’s not cool.

How to Get a Response

When you’re dealing with someone you knew at a previous job, be sensitive to their other work duties, but add a little urgency to the task.

Try this in a follow-up email:

Hi there,

Hope you’re well. I know you must be busy at work, but wanted to know if you think you’ll have a chance to [insert the task or feedback that you’re waiting on] before [your deadline]. No worries at all if not, just thought I’d check back in.

Your Name

Your Former Boss

Interviewing for a new job and waiting for a reference call to seal the deal? Want some tips on how to take the next step in your career? Your former manager can be a great resource--if you can get him to respond.

How to Get a Response

Here’s a real example that I used when I couldn’t get a hold of a former boss during a tough interview process.

Hi there,

Hope you’ve been well. I’m following up about that email I sent you because I’m in the advanced stages of an interview process. The employer recently emailed me and said that they couldn’t get a hold of you for a reference call. If you could send me a few dates and times that you’d be available, I’d appreciate it. But if you’re unable to do the call, please let me know and I’ll send them another contact.

[Your Name]

That Random, But Exciting Person You Met at a Networking Event

Woah! I made a contact at a networking event. And he might have an opportunity for me to consider! How exciting, right? Totally, unless that person goes dark on you after the first few emails.

How to Get a Response

Since you’ve already sent this person an email, you can gently remind them that you exist with this template:

Hi there,

Hope you’ve been well since [insert the event you attended]. I wanted to send you another note because the opportunity you mentioned sounded really interesting. I’d love to learn more. If that’s no longer on the table, I’d still love to connect and discuss [something you spoke about]!

Your Name

That Friend of a Friend of a Friend

How many times has someone told you that they “know someone” who can help your career? And even though it feels weird, how many times have you emailed those people? Sometimes you’ll get a very friendly response. But other times, you get, well, nothing. And why should you, right? After all, there are a few degrees of separation here.

How to Get a Response

Here’s a short email you can send that’s not awkward--and might even get this person’s attention.

Hi there,

Hope you’ve been well. [Your friend’s name] mentioned that you might be able to help with [specific ask you’re making]. I wanted to follow up to see if that’s still the case. If so, here are a few slots I’m available over the next week. If you need additional times, I’d be happy to accommodate.

[Insert 3 dates and times]

If it’s no longer possible, I also understand! Just let me know.

[Your Name]

As you’ll notice, all these templates offer the person an out. And while it sucks to have someone go back on their word, it’s always better to know that’s the case. Because otherwise, you’re stuck waiting for a response (and hoping against hope your message did end up in their spam folder and that’s why they’re not responded).

So even though following up means a little extra work for you, it’s still worth trying to figure out if the conversation is going anywhere. After all, there’s a deadline looming. Or a job possibility waiting. Or, an endless list of things that could positively impact your career.

But if you let it lie, those things will be nothing more than possibilities, so go get what you deserve.

Image Credit: Getty Images

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