The F-Word of Business: Followup!

How familiar is this scenario: you set out to do something, and when it doesn’t work out after the first or second attempt, you decide that you’re not good at it, you’ll never learn how to do it, or it’s not for you? Here are some stories like that which I’ve heard over the years (and I’ve heard hundreds of others like these):

  • “I set up my website 2 weeks ago, and while I’ve posted a few blog articles, I still haven’t gotten more than a few people looking at my site. This business website thing will never work for me!”
  • “I followed up with this prospective client, but they never responded to me. I guess they aren’t interested in my service or product.”
  • “I want to write a book of poetry, but have spent a month and can’t even decide on which of my poems to include. Maybe I’m not meant to publish a book!”

Do these situations resonate with you?

If this is an experience you’ve had, you are going to find it very difficult to create success for your soul-centered project. When you easily give up hope or enthusiasm for something you really, REALLY want because your vision didn’t become reality immediately, you are giving up at the EXACT moment to be forging ahead.

Instead of viewing your attempt as exactly that: simply, one attempt that did not work out, you create a story about yourself. The story usually sounds something like these:

  • I will never have a successful, high-traffic website.
  • This client will never be interested in my services.
  • I’ll never be able to write this book.

The truth is, it’s your ability to follow up and follow through that will help or prevent you from accomplishing the things you want to accomplish in life – not your abilities, or even your circumstances!

The F-Word of Business

Does the thought of following up with a colleague, client, or vendor feel so uncomfortable that it’s practically a bad word? Do you worry that following up means you’re desperate, aggressive, or too “salesy”? Sooo many business owners quail at the thought of having to follow up that I sometimes think of it as the f-word of business!

But in truth, followup is critical to your success. Try to think of it like in tennis. When you’re playing to win, it’s not just about where you make impact with the ball that helps it go where you want.

You also need to make sure you’re paying attention to your follow-through with your racquet upwards and outwards, to really guide that ball toward your target.

So much good comes of following up.

Not long ago, I had a client who applied for a teaching position and never heard back. She assumed she never got the job. I encouraged her to call and follow up, and it turned out that literally hundreds of people had applied, and not a single resume had been looked at yet. The person on the phone pulled my client’s resume from the stack as a result of her call, and she ended up getting the job.

Learn how to follow through from a pre-schooler!

I am often reminded of the value of follow-through just by observing my daughter, Penina. As most pre-schoolers do, Penina has a zest and curiosity for life, and wants to do everything for herself. However, it is a rare instance that she accomplishes her goal on her first attempt.

I’ll give you an example: last week, Penina was figuring out how to maneuver herself around a local playground’s climbing structure. I watched as she tested out which foot to place on which slat and which hand to grasp which bar with. Just as she was about to reach the top, Penina lost her balance, slipped down a rung, and banged the side of her head. I raced over to make sure she was okay. She was a little scared and cried for a minute or two. But then she did the most amazing thing: she pushed out of my arms and went directly back to the climbing structure to complete what she had set out to do.

Penina was able to persist and complete her goal because she didn’t judge herself for not achieving full success at her first attempt. In fact, I believe that the challenge is what made it more interesting for her!

Don’t Hesitate; Don’t Fear

Many times, one of the biggest issues that trips you up is when you wait too long to follow up out of fear. You wait weeks and weeks, so that if you ever do get around to making that call, the opportunity window has long since closed. With a prospect, you want to wait only a few days, at most, before reaching out to follow up.

A major step towards success and satisfaction is to be able to let your passion, enthusiasm, and interest for your project or goal be bigger and more powerful than any story you create about your small-ness or your inability. Don’t let one or two failures deter you from achieving success with your ideas, opportunities, relationships, and projects!

Remember, almost no one can do things exactly right on their first try. But don’t let that get in your way! Keep tapping into your curiosity, working at it, working at it, and tweaking your strategy (and maybe get support and help) until you achieve success. You can do it!

So here’s my homework for you:

Make a list of every prospect, partner, and opportunity that you haven’t followed up with over the last 3 months, and…get in touch with each of those people. Invite them to a conversation with you. See how you can follow up to achieve your goals.

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