If you’re trying to get someone’s attention for the first time, it’s hard to stand out. People are flooded with information, emails, RSS feeds, tweets…how do you make yourself heard or seen?
Why not try being unbelievably responsive? If you meet someone for the first time and four days later send an email to say thanks and follow up, the timing of your note communicates, “The time I spent with you really wasn’t that important. Those things we said we’d do? Probably not going to happen.”
Even worse? Waiting four days and sending a lackluster note.
Everyone is in constant triage mode. But everyone, up to our BlackBerry-touting President of the United States, responds to some people right away and some people later on (or never). So you have a chance each and every time to stand out from the crowd by being fast. This says, “you are on the top of my list.”
This doesn’t apply to every email you receive – then you’re a slave to your Inbox. But for the people who are most important to you (you’d know who they are, don’t you?), you’d better be writing back in 24 hours or less (immediately is good too).
Last Sunday I spoke on two panels at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference. I gave out almost an inch of business cards after my panels. I promise you I will think very differently about how to respond to the people I heard from a day or two after the conference and the person who, two months from now, is going to write to say, “we met back in March and…”