Thank You Notes photo from ShutterstockWhether you are looking for a job, trying to setup an appointment or thanking someone for their time, there is an Art and a Science to following up. This post is designed to help you become a Follow Up Artist.

Sending thank you notes for gifts. Following up with a note of appreciation for someone’s time. Or just a quick note to a friend or colleague can be very effective. This is something you have likely been told for most of your life. Diligent parents may have helped you form the foundation of great following up skills. If you had parents or others providing this guidance… good for you. Perhaps you are already a master at following up. If so, then you have already learned the value of following up. However, if you only occasionally send thank you notes I hope this post encourages you to do so more often. The impact on your reputation can have long term effects.

At this time of year it is especially important because of a lot of students are looking to secure their summer internships and graduating students are looking to make a great impression. Following up consistently, professionally and quickly can help you stand out from the competition. Keep in mind everyone only has a limited amount of time in their day. Those that follow up effectively will likely stand out and stay top of mind.

Below are a few tips for following up like an artist. The goal is to help you stand out, to show your personal and professional brand, and to help you communicate effectively.

  • Be Direct – State the reason for your follow up note. This is not the time to dither or ramble. Let them know why you are following up. If there is a call to action or a request for the recipient… Tell Them/Ask Them.
  • Be Respectful – Your follow up notes should be courteous and easy to consume.
  • Be Concise – Shorter is better. Seek to get your point across quickly. This is not the time for chit chat.
  • Be Unique– If you are only following up once this is less important. However, if you are sending multiple notes (maybe your first efforts did not get the desired response) then you should seek to change it up a little to get the recipients attention.

A few more tips that may be obvious, but still could bear repeating.

Penmanship, Timing and Presentation

  • Penmanship Matters – True, we aren’t in 3rd grade anymore. However, if you choose to hand write a note (and I can highly recommend you do) please take the time to write legibly. It doesn’t need to flow like calligraphy, but it should look nice.
  • Timing – The general rule of thumb is that sooner is better. This is especially true if you are sending something via the postal service. It will take a few days for the mail to be processed.
    • Pro Tip: I carry a set of thank you cards and pre-stamped envelopes in my bag. I can write them and send them before I get on the plane.
  • Format & Presentation – Your chosen format matters too. I recommend a customized set of stationery. It doesn’t have to be very expensive. However, your thank you cards should represent you and the message you want to put across.

By learning (or re-learning) how to communicate via follow up notes you will stand out in your career. When you put all the pieces together and consistently communicate with your peers, colleagues, prospective employers and current or prospective customers you too will become a Follow Up Artist.