A man I know has been looking for a new job for quite some time. He has been on several interviews, had great feedback, and then … nothing. In a couple of instances, the hiring manager got back to him right away and broke the news that they had gone with someone else. But he says most will say “we’ll let you know” or “we’ll have a decision by Tuesday” and then never get back to him. Obviously he gets the message that he isn’t getting the job, but this vagueness also plants a seed of doubt in his mind. Should he follow up with them? Will he look desperate? How much longer should he hold out before cutting his losses and accepting that it’s not going to happen?
None of us want to break bad news, but it comes across as lazy or insincere when we fail to do our jobs and make contact. And this isn’t the only situation in which following up is important. Whether you’re promising a second date, making plans to connect with someone whom you’ve met at a networking event, or trying to catch up with friends whom you see maybe once or twice a year, “let’s get together” and “I’ll call you” seem more and more like empty promises that have no significance. Who knows what we’re missing out on because we’re too busy/lazy/apathetic to make it happen?
My suggestion: Make an effort to solidify plans rather than shooting for a random date in the future. Most people have planners on their iPhones and PDAs now—use them! If you’re suggesting a drink, say, “What are you doing next week? Let’s get this on the calendar now.” If you’re worried about looking overly eager, blame it on the fact that if you don’t plan something right away, your schedule will fill up or you’ll both forget about it.
Another idea is to make a note of any plans or promises to follow up. Add it to your daily “to do” list so that you always have these commitments, however vague they may seem, in your mind. And think about it this way: An hour-long drink with a long-lost friend no doubt takes less time and energy than months of emails and texts with excuses as to why you can’t make it!