Strengthen your Credibility by Closing the Loop

It wasn't my plan to write about closing the loop, but it came up in three conversations this week. So before we get started - here is a recap of the stories shared with me this week.

One connection of mine told of a story where two separate people had reached out because their company needed someone with her skills, but she never heard back. 

The second example came when a friend told me of her frustrations with people reaching out to network, but once she responds, she hears nothing for weeks. She was especially frustrated because they were the one that needed the favor.

The third was a client discussing the age-old story of being ghosted by a recruiter. 

Do any of these situations sound familiar? With each person, I tried to play devil's advocate about what may have happened. The job filled faster than they expected, life gets busy, and delivering bad news is never easy. But is it fair to make excuses for these people?

Before I get on my soapbox, we have all done it, including me. But how can we stop doing it, and what if it happens to you? 

Let's start with why it happens. Life is busy, and we forget, or things change. All viable. But is that fair to the person on the other end who has taken their time to respond? 

When you think about it, they were owed a simple response. It doesn't always have to be a twenty-minute phone call (although that would be nice); often, it could be a simple text or email - here are some examples:

  • Janet, I am sorry to say that I did not realize the hiring manager already had a candidate in mind, and they moved quickly to hire. I appreciate your response and would love to connect soon.
  • Sam, thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I am sorry that I did not respond immediately. The project took a different turn, and we no longer needed the information. I hope all is well with you.
  • Georgia, what can I say? Unfortunately, I lost track of time, and I did not respond. Please accept my sincerest apology. I hope that we can connect another time.

THE ONE EXCEPTION - if you are a recruiter and spoke with someone on the phone, you owe them a phone call. It could be as simple as - Pat; I wanted to call and let you know that we decided to move forward with another candidate. I am sorry that it did not work out this time, and I wish you the best of luck. It is the worst part of the job, but every job has something difficult. No excuses.

As an eternal student of networking, I am always dishearted to hear when the person waiting for the follow-up worried about bothering the person who originally reached out to them. They started this game of phone tag, and if you still feel the connection would be mutually beneficial, you should send a second message to help them close the loop that they opened. Try this:

  • Jack, I was so excited to hear from you. I know life gets busy. If you are still interested in connecting, I am open Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning next week. If you would like to suggest a time, I would be happy to send a meeting planner.
  • Sam, I hate that it has been so long since we connected. Let's schedule ten minutes next week to connect.
  • Hey Lydia, thanks for thinking of me. Even though things have changed, would you have a few minutes to catch up next Tuesday or Thursday?
  • Tatem, I would still love to connect. If you utilize a calendar link for your clients, I would be happy to pick a time to make scheduling easier.
  • Anthony, I wanted to check in to see if any decisions have been made about the software engineer position. Either way, it would be great to have a quick conversation this week. I appreciate your time.

With all of that being said, it is just polite. But still, why don't we close the loop? Because life is busy, and networking seems like a selfish luxury to many. We do not invest time in relationships because our to-do list consumes our day, and we are not focused on the long game.

But it is never too late to start if you dream of a successful career, an exciting pivot, the best hotel to stay at in Bora Bora, or even see the need for a great restaurant the next time your boss or mother is in town - then you need to network!

The best way to get started is to pick up the phone. If you don't have that time today, take five minutes and do these three things:

  • Make a list of five people in your network that you have neglected, five people you barely know but would like to know better, and five former colleagues you owe a phone call to. 
  • Set a bi-weekly reoccurring appointment on your calendar for reaching out to people in your network.
  • Set a reoccurring weekly appointment on your calendar for returning phone calls to your network.

To the best of your ability, hold this time sacred. It is not just an investment in you today - but an investment in your future and the future of others. Good networkers know that they have to give before they get. So don't feel bad for following up on someone who has not closed the loop. 

Let's all work together to ensure the success of everyone!

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