There’s one thing that I’m always shocked that, in general, freelancers and business owners don’t do very well.
Know what it is?
It’s following up. The classic check in or touch base.
You know: It’s that little nudge of an email that essentially says, “Hey, remember me? I’m here and open for business if you (or anyone you know) needs me right now. Let’s work together again.”
It’s so simple...and yet so many people fail at this.
They forget to do it, and then when things get slow, they think, “CRAP! My business is going to fold. It’s all over. This is the end.”
When in reality, they probably have a list of people they haven’t checked in with in a while who need help. They just forgot/are too busy to reach out on their own.
If you haven’t heard from an old customer in a while, that’s not to say they don’t need you, like you, or even miss you.
They probably just have 120,523 things to do and it’s your job to be proactive and say, “Hiiiiii, I’m still here if you need me and also here are some ideas of things I could do for you.”
Following up, checking in (whatever you wanna call it) has helped keep my business sustainable (and growing!) over the past five years. And it only takes a few minutes to do.
So how can you do it, too? Even if you have the WORST memory or hate spreadsheets?
There are a few pretty simple options that are free (shoutout to my fellow cheap people!) Let’s look at ‘em.
Option 1: Set up reminders within your inbox.
I’m a Zoho user when it comes to email. And what’s nice about that is that they have this built-in tool that allows you to set up a lil’ reminder to email someone back if they haven’t responded to an email within a specified amount of time.
So what I do is this: Whenever I wrap up a project with a client, I go to the last email they sent me (usually a project wrap-up message) and set a reminder on it so that if that person hasn’t responded or emailed me within 5-6 weeks of that particular message, I get a ping that says, “Hey, dummy! Time to follow up with this person.”
It doesn’t really say that because #selflove, but it’s basically the sentiment.
Gmail also has this feature built right in.
It takes about 2 seconds to set this up and helps me stay on top of my follow-ups without any painful spreadsheet maintenance (because I hate spreadsheets.)
Option 2: Use a smartypants tool.
If you don’t have this feature within your email inbox, you can always use a tool to get the job done. FollowUpThen does basically the exact same thing. You can set up as many as 50 email reminders a month...FOR FREE...which is music to my ears.
Also very low-tech, which means it’s easy and won’t give you a headache when you try to figure out how to use it. Lots of other features available there too, but the bare-bones functionality works well if that’s all you need it for.
Option 3: Spreadsheet.
If you’re a spreadsheet person, keep one with all of your clients and note the date you last worked with them.
The trouble with this route is that spreadsheets often have to be checked manually, which we don’t always remember to do. So if you have a tip for this or know of some handy AirTable trick, email me and I will add it in when I post this over on my blog (with credit to you, DUH.)
The bottom line: Don’t forget the people you already know and like to work with. If you can be the check-in fairy, you’ll make their lives a teensy bit easier and keep yourself busy, too.
This article originally appeared in my newsletter, A Cup of Copy. Sign up and get these free tips sent right to your inbox every other Wednesday.