- Posted by Stephen White
- On October 1, 2017
- 0 Comments
- critical business skills, follow up, following up, job search follow up
Not all the changes that are occurring in business today are for the better. I recognized this recently in light of some personal experiences. It reminded me of the importance of follow up, and how it is quickly becoming a disappearing art.
Saying Good-Bye to My Best Friend
Earlier this year I had to part with my best friend. Mason was an adorable dog I had since he was a puppy. For over eleven and a half years he was my constant companion. He was my silent confidante, my pal, and the guardian of my home. He was handsome, smart, funny, occasionally mischievous, trusting, always entertaining, and unfailingly loyal and reliable. I knew I could always count on him.
For the last six months of his life his health deteriorated significantly. The amount of medication he was on for pain, arthritis and gastro-intestinal problems was unbelievable. In early June it became apparent that he was suffering badly, and I made that very difficult decision that every responsible pet owner has to make at some point. For nearly two weeks afterwards I wandered around lost in a daze and bemoaning the loss of my best friend.
The Search Begins
Having grown up with dogs I knew instinctively that I would get another. For me, this wasn’t even a second thought. However, I had no idea how difficult or emotionally draining this process would be.
Mason was a Rough Collie, and I thought it would be simple to find a breeder. Little did I know that there are only about a third as many Collie breeders in Ontario as there were a decade ago. Many are family businesses that have simply disappeared.
I contacted literally dozens of breeders, shelters and dog owners, sent out hundreds of e-mails, and made countless number of phone calls. I put nearly 6,000 kilometres on my car driving around Ontario this past summer visiting breeders and rescue organizations. I spent many an afternoon travelling down backroads in small farming communities searching for kennels or dog breeders. (Thank heavens for GPS and the all wheel drive capability on my Subaru!!) My evenings were taken up with endless hours on Kijiji or breeders’ websites looking at postings of dogs or puppies.
Sadly, these were some of my experiences:
- The amount of outdated information posted on the internet is truly amazing, misleading, and downright alarming. I can’t tell you how many sites I visited where breeders had posted notices saying they were expecting a litter of puppies….in the fall of 2009!! How people can purport to have an operating business when their websites contain such blatantly outdated material is a mystery to me.
- Despite being sincerely interested in adopting a dog only about 20% of people I ever contacted ever bothered to follow up on my calls or e-mails;
- Etiquette in both the spoken and written word is truly becoming a disappearing art. Pleasantries like “please”, “thank you” or simple expressions of gratitude are becoming a thing of the past.
Why is Follow Up Important?
So you may ask: why is this relevant for entrepreneurs, business owners or job seekers? Simply put, if you want to grow your business, secure employment, or even just stand out above the crowd, the best way of doing so is to cultivate the art of following up.
What does follow up mean? Essentially, it is committing to doing what you say you are going to do. It is responding to calls, e-mails or requests in a timely manner. It is being honest with people, and not stringing them along. It is about integrity, fairness, and having the courage to tell the truth. It is respecting the dignity of other people, including their right to choose. It is having the courage to say “no” rather than equivocating and saying “maybe”, or worse, not even bothering to respond.
Following up shows interest. It demonstrates commitment. It shows you care enough to “go the extra distance”. It is a tangible display of empathy.
Business and commerce are based on trust. Trust grows in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Take away respect and you have no basis for either commerce or a relationship.
Whether it is employers who string along applicants weeks after they have attended an interview, applicants who mislead employers and attend interviews even when they have no real commitment to the position, suppliers who deliberately mislead or deceive customers, or businesses that routinely delay payment to suppliers, our society today is cultivating a pervasive climate of disrespect and mistrust.
Following Up Helps You Stand Out
As a coach, a Human Resources professional, and an independent business owner, this is what impresses me:
- People who say they will follow up with me at a certain date and time and actually do so. Frankly, with the advent of smartphones and other communication devices there is really no excuse anymore for not following up;
- Clients who e-mail or text me ahead of time to cancel or postpone a coaching session, or just to say they will be late;
- Businesses that update their websites regularly, and delete outdated content;
- Employers who post positions in good faith, interview applicants, and after they have made a decision, follow up with unsuccessful candidates to thank them and advise them of their status;
- Businesses who have the courage to say they don’t have something, or can’t provide something, or, if I am pitching a service to them, tell me honestly that I’m not the right fit. Frankly, I’m old enough to accept the truth, and if I weren’t I wouldn’t have inquired in the first place.
The Search Finally Ends
Finally, after months of searching and frustration, and driving nearly 6,000 kilometres this past summer, I finally found my new “first mate”. Meet Mocha.
Mocha is a seven year old Golden Retriever. She has a sweet disposition, a natural curiosity, and a wonderful personality. Like Mason she is affectionate, occasionally mischievous, and incredibly funny.
I found Mocha through a wonderful Dog Rescue organization in Mississauga called “Take Me Home”. Mocha was originally from West Virginia in the United States, and unfortunately surrendered by her previous owner. Through the kindness of the wonderful people at Take Me Home, as well as caring dog shelter operators in Tyler County, West Virginia, Mocha finally made her way to Canada. What I appreciated most about the folks from Take Me Home is that quite unlike several dog rescue organizations and breeders, they responded quickly, communicated thoroughly, and didn’t leave me dangling. In short, they treated me with respect.
It is reassuring to know there are some people who understand the value and practice the art of follow up!
Special Note: Are you wondering how follow up can help you in your job search? Please contact me and let me show you how.