February 12, 2014
Joe Fairless

Why Don’t We Follow-Up?

I have a problem. I am offered a solution. Do I take it? Yes. Well, usually.

But, why do some people habitually resist a solution when it’s presented to them?

First, let’s look at an example.

Last Friday I presented at the New York City Public Library. Topic was How to Be a Good Networker.  It’s the second time I’ve presented there and I LOVE doing it because I
can tell the info I’m giving them is useful. I know this because of the engagement during the class plus the reviews they fill out afterwards.

But, an interesting thing happened to me before the class started this time. I always try to engage the attendees before I begin to 1) warm me up and 2) build a rapport with them. Well, this time my pre-presentation engagement attempt backfired!

Here’s how it went down with a lady in the audience:

Me: Glad you all made it today considering the bad weather!

She: Oh yes, I’m glad you made it too. Was concerned it would be canceled.

Me: Ah, I’m only a 10 minute cab ride away.


Yikes. Now let’s pause here. My attempt to build rapport ain’t going well. But, screw that because my main goal is to serve the audience members and help them reach their goals. So, the #1 thing is to move past the dis and try and help her get employment.

Me: Oh, what industry are you in?

She: I’m in payroll management.

Me: Oh, wow, my brother is a payroll manager for Greyhound.

She: Really?

Me: Yep, and I’d be happy to introduce you. He lives in Texas but might have some contacts in NYC that could help you out.

She: Ok

Me: Cool, follow up with me after the class and I’ll be glad to make the introduction.

Boom. Problem? Unemployed payroll manager. Solution? Introduce her to my brother in payroll management to help her get a job.

Done and done. Right?

WRONG. She. Never. Followed. Up.

Now, why, why, WHY would she not follow up?

And, let’s take a bigger step back from the example. I actually offered to help and jump on a call with everyone in the audience. I’d say 30% of them got my card and of that only 3% followed up with an email afterwards. Nobody actually asked for help. And during my presentation I made it a point to say it’s important to follow up within 48 hours and to ask for help from others.

Now they either don’t believe I can help them out or they do think I can help and for whatever reason they did not follow up.

For simplicity purposes let’s assume they think I can help them. So, the question is, why didn’t they follow up?

This is an age-old question. And, quite frankly, I’m guilty of it too. I’ve seen things that could be the solution to my problems and I don’t act on it. I don’t do it for the following reasons:

  • Too busy doing “other stuff”
  • Don’t see finding a solution to my problem as a priority
  • Lazy

The common theme from all those 3 things is it simply isn’t important enough for me to act on. Because if something is super important to you, you follow up, right?

So the next time I teach a class I’m going to focus on ways to help people determine if following up is important to them.

Here are four questions to ask ourselves:

1. What good things could happen if I follow up?

2. What bad things could happen if I follow up?

3. Why do I want a solution to my problem?

4. Where will my life be in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years from now if I don’t find a solution?

After answering those you will know if it’s a priority or not. If it is a priority you will now have enough associated pain/pleasure to take action.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.

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