Insights on Productivity

Never Forget to Follow-up Ever Again.

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Instructions updated 3/14/2021

In a recent blog post I wrote about how “The Early Bird Catches The Worm,” and “The Fortune is in the Follow-up.” are old sayings that go hand-in-hand. They’ve become old sayings because they are true. Following up with your clients and prospects will make you look professional personally, and enhance your brand reputation exponentially.

A timely follow-up can also mean the difference between closing a sale and hearing that they hired someone else before you got around to it.

The challenge however is that while we know the importance of following up, sometimes we forget to do it in a timely manner. Another was the time it takes to write that follow-up, making those critical decisions between sending an email that was too long or didn’t have just the right amount of information.

One solution was to prepare a ready-to-use email template that reduced the time it takes to craft an appropriate follow-up email.

The other solution was to create a reminder to follow up. For this, I use an automated approach using IFTTT.

If This Then That (IFTTT) is a freemium service that allows a user to program (and I use that term lightly) a simple action in response to a trigger event. For example, IF someone tags you in a photo on Facebook, THEN a copy can be saved to your Dropbox automatically. It’s really more like making a two-sep recipe than programming. While the Facebook example is simple, there are ways to do more complex automations too. IFTTT is free for five “Applets” (what they call recipes). More than five will incur a subscription fee starting at $4 per month. I only use three automations using IFTTT, so the free account works just fine for me.

To use IFTTT you’ll need to sign up for a free account, and then connect some of your services to make the applets. For this example, I’ve connected my email and calendar. Both are via Google Workspace (formerly known as GSuite and Google For Business), but any email and calendar service should work.

Once you have connected your services, you can create an applet that responds to an event in one service and triggers a response in another service.

Today I’m going to share with you my automation hack where a reminder to send a follow-up email is sent to me when an event on my calendar (like a prospect call) ends.

Step one: Craft your follow-up email template.

A follow-up email can be used for a variety of reasons. So having one all-purpose template may be a challenge. But for the purpose of this automation, I developed one that really serves as a good starting place. I always customize it based on the type of meeting I just had. Here is my template for the purpose of this automation:

Hi NAME,

Thanks so much for taking the time to connect today. I really appreciated your insights on [SOMETHING-I-AM-SPECIFICALLY-GRATEFUL-FOR].

Also: I really enjoyed learning about [SOMETING-WE-HAVE-IN-COMMON-OR-SHARED-INTERST-OR-SHARED-CONTACT].

Anyway, here are the next steps and key takeaways as I remember them from our conversation:

  • [INCLUDE-BOTH-COMMITMENTS-MADE-BY-YOU-TO-THE-OTHER-PERSON-AND-BY-THE-OTHER-PERSON-TO-YOU].

If you feel I missed anything, please let me know. Otherwise, have a great rest of your day, and I look forward to [IMMEDIATE-NEXT-STEP]!

Thanks,
Andy

I keep this template handy in Evernote so that I can quickly copy/paste it into a new email, and draft my follow-up because not every meeting is in my calendar (e.g.. I just met someone at a networking event).

Step two: Set up your IFTTT automation.

For this step, you’ll need a free IFTTT account with your email and calendar services connected. IFTTT is fairly easy to use, and when you sign up you’ll be prompted to add services (e.g. email, calendar, social account, etc.). There are thousands of services you can connect to your account to create Applets. One nice thing about IFTTT is that you can browse a library of pre-set-up Applets that work with your services, and then all you need to do is customize them.

For the follow-up Applet, here is what you want to do to set it up:

  1. In My Applets, click Create a new.
  2. Next, on the next screen, click If This: Add to add your calendar service. I use “Google Calendar” and on the next screen scroll down to “Any event ends”. It will then prompt you to choose which calendar you want to use (if you have more than one associated with your account). Then click create trigger.
  3. On the next screen, click “Then That: Add” and in the search bar type “email” to filter out all of the other services. Click “email” and on the next screen you’ll only have one option “Send me an email”, so click that too.
  4. On the next screen, you’ll be faced with two open text fields to enter HTML text. If you know HTML, go ahead and edit these fields to have the email subject and body you want to be in your follow-up reminder. If you don’t know HTML, copy/paste the snippets below.
  5. After you add your HTML click “Create” and then “Continue” and “Finish” on the next screens.

On the last screen click “check now” to make sure it works and then you’re done. Now, after any event in your calendar ends, you’ll get an email in your inbox that looks like this in about 15 minutes:

With this reminder in your inbox and a template that you can copy/paste to get you started, you’ll never forget to follow-up again. And the template serves as a starting point for your message.

Here are the HTML snippets you can copy:

Subject: Follow-up reminder for {{Title}}

Body: Hey – Your meeting – {{Title}} – from {{StartTime}} to {{EndTime}} just ended. Should you follow up?<br>

<br>

Heres a quick template:<br>

<br>

Hi [!First Name],<br>

<br>

Thanks so much for taking the time to connect today. I really appreciated your insights on [SOMETHING-I-AM-SPECIFICALLY-GRATEFUL-FOR].<br>

<br>

Also: I really enjoyed learning about [SOMETING-WE-HAVE-IN-COMMON-OR-SHARED-INTERST-OR-SHARED-CONTACT].<br>

<br>

Anyway, here are the next steps and key takeaways as I remember them from our conversation:<br>

<br>

– [INCLUDE-BOTH-COMMITMENTS-MADE-BY-YOU-TO-THE-OTHER-PERSON-AND-BY-THE-OTHER-PERSON-TO-YOU].<br>

<br>

If you feel I missed anything, please let me know. Otherwise, have a great rest of your day, and I look forward to [IMMEDIATE-NEXT-STEP]!<br>

<br>

Thanks,<br>

<br>

Andy

NOTE: Change the name in red above, to your name.

 

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