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