We had what I thought was a nice call. She was engaged and positive throughout our conversation, and we talked about a possible collaboration. The next day I sent her an email with information addressing some of the follow-ups. And…no response.
Months went by and there was still no response. I figured I had irritated her somehow or maybe she just wasn’t interested, and I was going to leave it at that.
Then a friend reminded me of what I was supposed to do next.
“Maybe she’s just busy,” my friend said. “Reach out to her again.” His encouragement reminded me that 9 months earlier I had written about what to do when someone ignores you or doesn’t appreciate your contributions.
Rather than invent a negative story, it’s better to just assume the best of people and try again. Don’t badger them – Did you get my last email? Instead, use what you learned from your reflection and offer another gift in the future.
I had neglected to take my own advice. Nudged by my friend, I stopped making up a story about what she was thinking and I thought of something constructive I could do.
The contribution and the response
I sent her a simple email about a conversation I had with someone in her industry, how it made me think of her, and that I hoped she had a nice summer. The email was just two sentences long.
The very next day, I got an enthusiastic response:
“Hi, John! Great to hear from you!”
I was pleasantly shocked. Her note went on to describe an event she wanted us to work on together, along with specific next steps, and since then we confirmed our plans. That one email led to an exciting opportunity for me.
Two valuable lessons
This experience taught me a few things.
By assuming something about the person I was reaching out to and not following up, I had closed off access to an opportunity. I learned (again) how being open leads to possibilities.
The other lesson was that advice is only as useful as your willingness to put it into practice. And the more you practice, the more it becomes a habit.
The next time someone doesn’t respond to you, don’t take my advice. Use it instead.