What’s the Best Way to Follow Up?

When I taught management-theory classes at a Southern California college, students would sometimes say to me, “Look, you’ve just walked me through ten different theories of management.  What’s the best one to use?”

I would answer, “The one you consistently apply.  Why would I say this?  The reason there are different ways of managing people is because people are different.  They have different personalities, different approaches, and different techniques.  The tried-and-true method that you consistently and effectively apply is the one that’s going to work best for you.

Follow-up is a similar issue.  For example, I know that handwritten notes are considered to be the best way to follow up.  The problem is . . . I just don’t do them consistently.  Therefore, are they really the best technique for me? No, because I know I’m not going to do them regularly.  I prefer to follow up with an e-mail message, a phone call, or better yet, a card using something like the SendoutCards.com system.

The truth is, almost any follow-up method will work if you use it well and consistently.  The best method for you is whichever one you are most comfortable with and can do every time the need arises. 

The reason is simple: whatever you do, you’ve got to do it well, and if you feel obligated to keep doing something that you don’t like to do, you won’t do it well–at least not consistently.  And, a late-arriving, clumsy, or half-hearted note in your own messy handwriting is going to make a worse impression than a less “proper” but more heartfelt and immediate telephone call.

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