Amazon.com Widgets

Marnie Webb on the art of the follow through

In tennis, the initial contact with the ball isnt enough for a good serve, you need to follow through. Same thing in organizing, its not the initial contact, you need to follow through.

In tennis, the initial contact with the ball isn't enough for a good serve, you need to follow through. Same thing in organizing, it's not the initial contact, you need to follow through.

I am a big proponent of following up with people. I believe it is the little bit of extra effort that often separates success from failure.

That’s why I was delighted to read Marnie Webb’s post on the Case Foundation’s blog on the art of the follow through.

Why follow up? As Marnie writes, “we also want to make sure that the people who do sign up have ways to increase their engagement. And that’s about the art of the follow through.”

She offers five easy ways to follow through:

  1. Write them a note. For no reason at all.
  2. Show up at their party.
  3. Give your supporters something special.
  4. Give them something else to do.
  5. Ask for feedback and change because of it.

These are just the highlights. Read Marnie’s post for some great tips and comments on them.

Follow up…with a personal touch

Yesterday I posted about the importance of following up quickly. Let me add one more point to that: follow up with a personal touch.

Again to quote from Tools for Radical Democracy, “Adhere to a twenty-four- to forty-eight-hour rule: within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, you call people with potential and have a deeper conversation” (emphasis added).

You call people.

That’s a personal contact. It’s human-to-human, and in this age of electronic bombardment, it’s a rare and valuable thing.

In Milk, there’s a great scene where Cleve is rallying people to come out for a demonstration. What does he do, he goes out to the phone booth and he calls people. They spread the word, and soon the streets are filled.

Follow up. Quickly. Personally. It’s the heart of organzing.

Follow up…and fast!

I’ve been reading Tools for Radical Democracy, and you’ll be hearing a lot about it here, it’s a great book.

In their chapter on recruitment, one of their instructions is:

Follow up. Adhere to a twenty-four- to forty-eight-hour rule: within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, you call people with potential and have a deeper conversation.

Confession time: I fail at the 24-to-48-hour rule. But I think it is a good goal to have. As the authors say, “If you wait too long, people are likely to forget about your conversation and the interest the experienced when speaking with you face-to-face.”

If you don’t follow up, most of your outreach efforts will be wasted.

Follow up, and fast.

Plan your follow-up BEFORE the event

When you have an event, your energy and excitement peaks before the first guest walks in the door. By the time the event is over, you’re exhausted.

For your attendees, however, their energy peaks at and right after the event.

Here’s how it looks if you’re an organizer:

Energy curve for organizers

Your guests, however, have a different experience. It looks like this:

Energy curve for event attendees

What does this mean?

First, it means that your attendees are most ready to take further action and to get more involved right after the event, right when your energy is at its lowest.

That means you need to plan your follow up before your event!

You have a golden opportunity to cement your attendees’ commitment to your cause immediately after it finishes. That’s when they will be most receptive to action alerts, fund appeals, or just a feel-good “thank you for attending” email.

So plan that follow up while your energy is high. Plan what you will do to keep in contact with your attendees. Create the infrastructure. Even draft the emails you will send out.

By the time you get back to the office after the event, exhausted as you are, you want to be ready just to do a very little bit of tweaking and data entry to get your follow-up to your attendees.

Follow-up is like gold for increasing commitment to your cause. Don’t lose that chance by neglecting to plan for what happens after your last guest goes home.