So yesterday I stumbled upon a guy who was very upset with me. In his words I ignored him when he needed help to publicize a fund raiser his mother’s kidney transplant. He was so visibly upset with me that I thought he must have mixed me up with someone else…but no it was me. I was accused of showing no empathy, not caring about the seriousness of his mother’s health and not caring if she lived or died. Why?
Because he sent a single email to me in November of 2013 and because I did not respond to that single email, he had harbored this hate without ever even meeting me. Weird…but let’s side step the fact that I get all sorts of weird and un-weird emails at different times of the day asking for anything from book publishing advice to financial assistance. Let us also sidestep the fact that I try and respond to all the emails I receive no matter how weird. Let’s side step all of that, Instead let me tell you a little bit about how I got my first professional job…
In 2001 I was stuck on the University of Houston campus searching for a job, but nobody would hire me…because I was an international student. Which basically meant I was neither a permanent resident of citizen of America and thus my job options ranged from limited to non-existent.
One day a certain lady named Linda (last name omitted) came to an engineering student organization meeting, she said she worked with company XYZ and that company was actually hiring International students. I was excited!
They could have been hiring cleaners or security guards and I would not have cared all I knew was that they hired international students. So after the meeting I walked up to the front of the meeting room and introduced myself to Linda. We spoke for about 30 quick seconds about her presentation and potential job opportunities with her company … she reiterated the fact that they did hire international students and could thus hire me. She gave me her card, which had her email address and phone number. I was elated…the first thing I did was to send an email…
But nothing, no response. I sent another email but still nothing. I waited a few days and then sent another email plus a phone call which ended up going to voicemail. I kept at this email/phone-call routine for what I would say was about a month…
Until one day I got a call out of the blue. It was Linda…I thought she was calling to have me arrested for stalking but no, she called to let me know that she had seen my emails and that her company was having interviews at the University of Houston the next day. She asked if I was interested in being interviewed …. the rest they say was history.
You see I got my first job not by sending a single email, but by sending several emails and by doing following ups consistently…almost bordering on stalking. But I kept at it, cause I needed that job badly.
And to date that has been my life strategy…follow up follow up follow up. With potential clients, investors and business partners I keep following up … until they say “stop stalking me you crazy black man” “NO.”
That’s why I roll my eyes (yes some guys do roll their eyes), when people say I sent an email but they did not respond so they must not like me…really! Like do you know how many emails ‘they’ received that day? Do you know if maybe the email went into their spam folder?
And that’s the danger with a single email … it gives the false pretense that communication has been established when in fact it has not. But instead of verifying and prodding further the sender creates assumptions almost bothering on hate as to why their email was not responded to. Aside from the fact that it is hurtful, it is also opportunity limiting …
So don’t just send a single email and then make assumptions … keep following up until you hear something!
PS: Glad to say that his mother is now receiving treatment overseas. Wishing her the best!
and Drawn By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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