MR CORPO is obsessed with pre-reads and saying things in advance but on today's episode, he talks about the many advantages of following up after a meeting.
JUSTIN: Memories, like the corner of my mind. Soft and watercolored memories of the way we were.
JUSTIN: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Mr. Corpo podcast. Today’s episode, we are going to talk about the importance of following up. Now, for all the avid listeners of the Mr. Corpo podcast, you know we spend a lot of energy, a lot of time, talking about pre-reads. Or saying things in advance. Well, today’s episode is just the opposite. Today we’re gonna make sure that you say things afterwards. Following up can take many forms. And I want to highlight three situations where following up is really, really, really important. Number one, when you don’t know the answer. Number two, when you aren’t happy with your answer. And number three, when you mention something that someone else doesn’t know.
Now, the underlying theme of all three of these topics is my principle of efficiency through overcommunication. Because following up is a great chance to demonstrate that you’re organized, you’re trustworthy, and you’re thoughtful. Let’s get to work.
Alright, number one. The first scenario I want to talk about is when you don’t know the answer to a question. And the first thing I want to say about that is, it is 100 percent okay to not know everything. It is 100 percent okay to not know the answer to a specific question in a specific meeting. It is okay. I promise. The important part is that you don’t fake it. And then the most important part is that you follow up. If you’re in a meeting and someone asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, simply say, “You know what? I don’t know the answer to that question right here, but I can get back to you within the next hour and get you the final number.” The important part is to be clear. That’s the “I don’t know” part. And then the other important part is to be specific. That’s the “I’ll get back to you in one hour” part.
Now, the most important part is the actual follow-up. Get back to your desk, do the research, get the answer, and send the email within the next hour. Make sure to cc everyone. Everyone that was in the room. Everyone that knew you had promised to do a follow-up, make sure they’re on the email. You have to include everyone in the email because everyone needs to see that you followed through on what you said you’d do. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to demonstrate you’re organized, you’re trustworthy. And hey, people can count on you to do what you say you’re going to do. Voila! No one remembers that you didn’t know the answer. Now, everyone notices that you’re a trustworthy person who follows through on what you do. We’ve turned a bad situation into a good situation. Boom. That’s the power of following up, part one.
Okay. Now for part two. There will come a point in your life, work-related or personal, when someone asks you a question, you answer it, and maybe after you leave the meeting or the dinner or the event or the party, you reflect back on your answer and you think, “Shoot. I wish I had said X.” Or, “I wish I had said something differently.” Or, “That was a horrible answer that I gave to that question.” Whatever the case may be, all hope is not lost. In fact, most people don’t realize they still have an excellent opportunity to follow up and set the record straight. It is never too late to say what you actually want to say. All you have to do is send a very simpe email to the person. I recommend the title to be simply, “Follow Up.” No context, just simply the words, “Follow Up.” The reason you want to do this is, you want to keep it really punchy and get them intrigued to wonder, what is the follow up? Then simply make your point. And be honest. Don’t try and be political. Don’t try and triangulate. Don’t try and like, deflect everything this way and that way. Cause then it’s annoying and it’s an unclear email. Be really simple and to the point. The time is over for all the games. Now it’s just about being honest, being human.
Now, let me make this real. Here’s an example from my life. I was working for a company, I’m not gonna say which company. But I happened to be in London, and I happened to be out to dinner with the CEO and the founder of this big global company. 5:05 I had a fantastic dinner. We were talking one-on-one, there were also a couple other people there. Actually, my mom happened to be there for a number of reasons. And we had a great time in the conversation, we were talking about work, we were talking about personal life, we were talking about all these different things, and I felt like I really hit it off.
And we left the dinner and I’m walking home and my mom turned to me and said, “Wow. Justin, you did a great job at that dinner. But your answer to that one question was horrible.” And I looked at her and I immediately knew what she was talking about. This boss, this CEO, had asked me, what did I imagine I wanted to do in the future of my career, what did I want to do with my life? And I gave this super rambling, super unclear, just horrible answer. And I could see his face just kind of glaze over, he almost stopped listening, like no one understood what they -- what I was saying. Cause I didn’t even know what I was saying. And I went home and I was so disappointed.
But what I did was, one week later, maybe 10 days later, I wrote an email and it just said, “Follow Up.” And I wrote directly to this person. And I said, “Follow Up,” and I said, “Dear X, I’ve been thinking about our conversation that we had last week and there was one answer that I -- there was one answer that I gave you which I wasn’t happy with. When you asked what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I wish I would have said this, and here’s my simple answer.” And I said something to the effect of, I’d like to run my own company. I’d like to combine creative with the business aspect, and I’d like to either do that blah blah blah blah blah. So I was really kind of acknowledging, here was your question, here’s my better answer.
Now, on this podcast, I’m not giving you a good example of what it is cause it was probably two years ago. But ultimately I gave a very crisp and clear answer that said, “My last answer wasn’t good. Here’s exactly what I want to do.” Now, it was kind of stressful cause the person didn’t reply for a day or two. And then I got an email. And it said, “Dear Justin, I understand what you’re saying. Signed, the person’s name.” That was it. I’d cleaned up my mess. I’d made it clear to this person, I had not missed an opportunity to explain to them what I really wanted.
And guess what? I woke up three months later. This person called me into their office. They gave me a promotion. They moved me halfway around the world. And I got a 30 percent raise. And I absolutely, without a doubt, guarantee that all came from the fact of my follow up email, made it clear for this person what I wanted, and it gave them a chance to give me what I wanted. And if I hadn’t sent that email, I’d probably still be sitting in London, in the cold, in the rain, shivering, having missed out on life. So that’s just a point of, never miss an opportunity. This was even with a world-powerful CEO. I sent that email. So imagine how easy it is to send to a co-worker. Or a boss. Or someone else. Or a loved one. Whatever the case may be. Voila. The power of the follow up changed my life. I love following up. And you should, too.
But wait! There’s more. And again, this applies as much to your personal life as your professional life. This is part three of following up. When you mention something that someone else doesn’t know about. This happens to all of us. You’re trying to reference something, a movie, a book, a quote, and the other person doesn’t know what you’re talking about. Or maybe it’s on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite get the quote right. Or you can’t quite remember the person’s name. In these cases, it is always a good idea to follow up with a quick link to whatever it is you’re talking about. This can be an email, a text, whatever. The point is that you’re closing the loop. You’re making the extra effort. Whether it’s a friend or a colleague, you’re subtly communicating, “You can count on me. I care about you. I want to make sure we stay on the same page.”
Recently, I’ve even noticed a new trend taking this to the extreme, which is using your Amazon Prime account. I’m finding that some people when they mention a book to me and I say, “Oh, that sounds interesting,” the next thing I know, three days later, the book arrives from Amazon prime. I mean, you think about it, it’s free shipping. A lot of these books are so cheap. People are actually just following up by sending the actual book. That’s like a boss move right there. So think about that. That’s just a tip of the hat. Shoutout to my friend Ryan, who just sent me a book.
But otherwise, I want to give you an example. If I’m in a conversation and I mention beekeeping, then the next day, or the end of the day, I usually send a follow up. And it’s just an FYI, it’s just a link, and it says, “Hey, just something on the end of the day. Wanted to follow up. Here’s a link to the book I wrote about beekeeping.” Now, there’s a couple levels to this. One, it keeps it casual. You know, there’s a little bit of a humble brag in there, I’ll fully admit that. But maybe I’m just showing good manners and following through. The point is, it gives me another chance to keep the conversation going, to make a connection, to draw closer to this person, and to say, 10:03 “Hey, I care enough about you to follow through and follow up.”
So do you get my point? You extend the conversation. You clarify a point. Or you follow through when you don’t know the answer. Whatever the case may be, there’s no downside to following up. There’s only upside. So make it a habit. Don’t worry about bothering people. Keep the emails simple. Keep the hallway conversation simple. Whatever the case may be. But make the extra effort to follow through. Especially if you say you’re gonna follow up, you don’t have a choice. You have to follow up. At the point at which you say you’re gonna do something and you don’t do it, you’re losing credibility, you’re no trustworthy, and it’s only downhill from there. So that’s all I have to say for why you should always follow up.
And that’s it for today’s episode. Short, sweet, punchy. Gives you something to go work on. Rob, thanks for producing another episode. Shoutout to all the Mr. Corpo listeners. Thanks for all the support. Hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit mrcorpo.com. And I think that’s all the big news for today.
Oh, and that was -- I thought it was Gladys Knight and the Pips that I was singing, but maybe it was Barbara Streisand, I’m not sure. The point was, people have a long memory. They don’t forget, if you forget. So don’t forget. Follow up.