A follow-up letter or e-mail is a useful tool, if properly utilized, to help an individual send information, thank another individual, get a response on a matter, inquire about the current status, show interest, get a sale, and generally stay relevant in any particular situation. Various individuals use this form of writing for different reasons, ranging from business transactions to job applications and job inquiries, to name a few because it aids in allowing the person you conversed with to remember and to know more details about you and the things you talked about. Most importantly, by writing a follow-up letter and e-mail, you solidify the relationship between you and the person you have conversed with, leading to better communication channels and the clarification or bringing up of things discussed previously.
General applications for follow-up letters are:
- Job interviews
- Business meetings
- Supervisor/co-worker dialogue
The majority of people are hesitant in using this excellent tool because they are worried that they may come off as persistent and irritating, but contrary to belief, by writing and sending a follow-up letter, at best possible time, you better position yourself in accomplishing what needs to be done. So, let’s dive into the world of effective follow-up letter writing and help you get a better foothold on life.
How to Write an Effective Follow-up Letter or E-mail
Follow-up letters or e-mails are effective because thought, process, and the structure were poured into them to properly convey the desired message to the reader. One does not simply get up and write a follow-up e-mail because he/she wants to ascertain points or inquiries because errors in writing, structure, and grammar would be detrimental to the relationship you initially built.
To build an incredible and thought-provoking follow-up letter or e-mail, you have to take these essential steps to ensure you accomplish your goal:
- Determine an Objective
- Open using Relatable Context.
- State Purpose
- Write Subject Line
- Determine When to Follow-up
Determine an Objective
Before you start writing your follow-up letter, you must first determine why you want to write it. By clearly defining your objective, you can better articulate your words to create a more transparent and more effective call-to-action.
Primary objectives on writing a follow-up letter:
Request information – these could vary from clarifying a piece of info, get status on your job interview or job application, get updates on your deal or negotiation, and clarify if you landed the job.
Request a meeting – these could vary from just wanting to exchange ideas, give a sales pitch, ask for a favor, and receive feedback for previously discussed topics.
Catching up – this usually happens to a friend whom we haven’t spoken to for a while, then we receive relevant updates with them and wish to congratulate or discuss it.
Thanksgiving – this usually happens after a job interview, a meeting, and in general, during the early stages of building a relationship.
Open with a Common Point of Interest
Bear in mind that the individual, whom you wish to send your follow-up letter to, has conversed and interacted with various individuals in the past days, and the chance of him/her forgetting you is relatively high. Open the conversation by stating a common point of interest, a common connection or a shared experience will help that individual better remember who you are. By doing so, will make them easier to reply properly and give you the information you need, which would then help in progressing the relationship.
Don’t beat around the bush and clearly state the reason in which you’d like to follow-up that individual on. By clearly stating the reason behind the letter, you reframe the state of mind of both parties that a particular event or idea needs to be expounded and eventually resolved. Stating your purpose would then allow the concerned individual to prepare, so that time will be efficiently spent in resolving the idea.
Write a Concise Subject Line
Since we live in an age where the traditional “snail-mail” has been replaced with the more modern and efficient e-mail, we should write a clear and eye-catching subject line. Everyone receives various e-mails throughout the day, ranging from spam to work, that is why it is important to catch the eye of the recipient immediately so that your letter will not get drowned out.
By writing an effective and concise subject line, you inform the reader, without having to actually read the content, about the purpose of the e-mail as well as other important matters which would then lead to him/her actually opening the letter.
Determine When to Follow-up
The phrase “there’s a time for everything” also applies to follow-up e-mails. Generally speaking, various types of inquiries, needs, updates, and dealings fall under different categories; thus each also has different times in which you should send them
- 24 hours – for interviews or phone screenings and after a meeting or conference
- 48 hours – after submitting a job application and work-related matters
- One week – job application updates, sales pitches, and meeting requests
- One month – people you’ve met in a conference, meet-up or any professional organization
- up to 3 months – for catching up with friends
These are just general guidelines, and it still depends on your specific circumstance, whether these times apply. As a general principle, it is still best to follow any specific instructions you were given throughout the course of the conversation or the like.
Follow-up letters are usually formatted in formal business style. Here is more information about how to format a follow-up e-mail or letter.
Sample Letters & Examples