4.2 The Importance of Follow-Up

Dear Kim:

I recently sent a letter to the founding director of our organization and asked her to consider being on our event committee.  I never heard back from her and so I formed the committee without her.  But now I have heard through the grapevine that she is a little hurt not to be included on this committee.  It is our 30th Anniversary and the event is a really big deal.  She had her chance, so I am not sure what I am supposed to do.  Ideas?

~At a Loss

Dear At A Loss:

You are indeed at a loss—a loss of common sense!  If you really want someone on a committee (or really want someone to do just about anything) you have to  follow up your letter or e-mail with a phone call.  How do you know she even got the letter?  You say “she had her chance” as though she missed an opportunity to get a free trip to Fiji or to go out with the person of her dreams.   But what she missed was a chance to volunteer time and expertise helping this event be successful.  Your event is going to flop if you approach all the people you are inviting with the same lack of care and concern you show for this person.  

What you should do now is call her and apologize that you didn’t call before.  Tell her you got overwhelmed and her name slipped off your radar (don’t indicate that you never intended to call unless you really want to make things worse.) Ask her if  there any way she could consider coming on the committee now?  I find that many people are very forgiving if you are genuinely sorry. They know what it is to be busy and if she really wants to be part of this, she will say yes.

Then I suggest you think about your approach to asking people to do things, and ratchet it up from the “one letter and you are out” attitude to “Let me try several times to make sure I know what the person really wants.”

Good luck!

~Kim Klein