Follow-Up Faux Pas



E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2014

Congratulations on getting out of the office to network! Hopefully you met some colleagues you didn’t know before and connected with other contacts who may be possible referral sources. Rarely do these contacts turn into referrals on their own, so make time to stay in touch with the folks you’ve met but avoid these common follow-up faux pas:

  • No Follow-Up

One of the most frequent blunders is not to follow-up at all with the people you’ve met. It does absolutely no good to collect a pile of business cards and then toss them into a file or box where they gather dust until you get so many you finally have to throw them out. Take time to read these cards and to learn more about your contacts. Make some notes to refresh your memory about the time you spent together and the kinds of things you may want to follow-up with them about. Many contacts are often perplexed that they never hear from you – particularly if they are senior to you professionally or in prominence and naturally assume that you will pursue them.

  • Mystery Messages

Good for you if you’ve been making calls or sending emails to communicate with the people you’ve met. But, like you, these are busy folks who are in appointments all day so expect to play telephone tag or not get a prompt reply. Sometimes, though, this happens because the type of message you leave is not helpful or informative, so people don’t reply to you at all. Don’t waste their time. A message that says, “Call me” says nothing. What do you want? Why are you calling or emailing? If you are “Just saying ‘hello,’” make this clear along with the fact that a reply is not essential. This is a great way to nurture the relationship. But if you’re looking for a particular action, like getting together for lunch or wanting to discuss something specific, say so. This allows the conversation to progress via message even if you’re not able to communicate directly with one another.

  • Lazy Marketing

A common message that contacts receive is “Please look at my website to learn about me and my services.” Why should they? If they don’t already know you and have some interest in what you’re doing, what’s their motivation for doing this? It’s your job to “sell” to them, not theirs to do this work for you. Select brief marketing information you want to highlight and include that in your email message along with a link to your website so they can get more information if they want to. Don’t send them spam or start blasting them with random sales pitches. Send marketing material that includes your website link and selected screenshots to them by regular mail. Yes, this costs you money, but this is the cost of doing business and is part of the quality “brand” you’re promoting, isn’t it? Don’t push the time and labor off on your prospect. Make it easy for them to learn more about you and to work with you.

  • No Permission

In this high tech, digital age, it’s easy to take liberties and to connect inappropriately with people. Get permission to intrude upon a new contact’s “space.” They may love communicating with you by text, but be sure to get consent before contacting them this way. They may be proud to have the name of their practice posted on your website or social media page, but be sure about this. Even innocently broadcasting that you’ve met with them may not be cool from their perspective, so be sure you have the go-ahead. Privacy and confidentiality issues are more of an issue in our field than others, so marketing strategies that are touted for other businesses may not be good for you. Err on the side of caution.

Follow-up is an important part of networking, but avoid common faux pas if you want to nurture relationships that will be mutually beneficial for you and your colleagues. Make it easy for them to do business with you and be sensitive to their communication preferences as you strive to stay in touch.

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About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

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