“I have two professional guests who agreed to be on my podcast. One of them a professor, the other an author. The conversations I had with both guests started out very well. Details were settled. All that was left was for me to tell them when works… No response. I followed up after 2 weeks or so. One didn’t respond at all, the other one said he’d get back to me in a couple days. It’s now been another few weeks. I’m not sure how to react. Should I take the hint and back off? Should I keep respectfully following up?”
This particular example from an Office Hours listener is something many people struggle with. How do you send follow up emails without coming across as rude or pushy?
First, don’t take it personally.
Everyone’s schedule is different. Everyone’s personality is different. If someone doesn’t reply, it doesn’t mean that you did something wrong or that the person is annoyed by your email. It just means that they have different priorities or your email is a request outside of their normal day to day workflow.
Take the headache away from them as much as you can.
Anytime you have a confirmation that the other person wants to do something with you, immediately translate that into an action item. Make sure it’s one simple thing. Don’t bog them down with details about their outline or whether or not Skype works for them. You can work out the details later. Go straight to booking the time. (Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best, please book one of the following times. Let me know if you have any questions.)
Use permission based follow ups.
Whenever you talk with the person, get permission to follow up with them by telling them you are going to follow up. If they don’t object, they are giving you permission to proceed.
In this question’s particular example, if someone has agreed to be on your podcast and they haven’t answered your first email after a few weeks, send a basic follow up. (Hey, just wanted to follow up about nailing down a time for our podcast interview, etc…)
If they don’t respond to that follow up after a few weeks, email them again and say something like, “it looks like it’s not a good time to do this right now, so I’ll put this on the back-burner and circle back around in another month or so.”
This either gives them the needed reminder to actually schedule, or to agree and say it’s not a good time. Even if they don’t reply, you’ve made it clear to them when they can expect your next email. This way you don’t have to worry about how long to wait and if you’re being rude or pushy about the whole thing.
If you want to be a little bit more aggressive about it:
You can reply to the same email thread first with a typical reminder. (Hey, I’m bumping this back up to the top of your inbox, please let me know ASAP if one of these times works.)
If they don’t reply, compose a new email thread again asking them to book a date. Still no response? Go with something like this: ‘Hey, I still haven’t heard from you so I’m assuming it’s a bad time. I’ll just follow up with you every month or so until you book.’
If someone has indicated that they are interested, there’s no harm in continuing to ask until you get a no. You don’t have to be a jerk about it, but don’t stop. They just might have different priorities on their end or organization issues. Eventually, they will get around to giving you an answer.