I got an email from a coaching client of mine recently. He had sent a prospective referral source an email containing a couple of articles he thought might interest him, and never received a response. Sound familiar?

My client was confused. This contact was one of his classmates from law school, and while they weren’t close friends, they were certainly good acquaintances. He was a person who my client thought would surely write him back. Did the email end up in his spam folder? Did he receive the message and simply forget to respond? This was a contact my client believed could be a long-term referral source and he also believed he could send business to him as well. He emailed to ask me how he could get his attention without being a nag?

I thought his question was an important one, because we’ve all been there. We’ve all reached out to prospects or potential referral sources and not gotten a response. Do you give up and move along? Or do you keep pursuing these contacts in the hope they come around? How much business are you leaving on the table simply because you didn’t make that one additional phone call or send that one additional email? How do you know if the person wants to be left alone or just simply overlooked something that could be beneficial to both of you?

I thought about this question, and came up with a few creative ways you might get someone to return your call.  

1. Don’t Be a Pest

It’s important that we begin here.  If someone is not interested in working with you, you should respect that. If it is the second or third time you’ve contacted them, and you have received no response, then wait a few months (two or three) and reach out one more time.  Try a phone call instead of email or the tried and true handwritten note mentioned below.  If you don’t get a response after the third attempt, leave them alone.  For whatever reason, and it may not be personal, they are not interested in furthering a relationship with you.  Client development is like dating.  You never want to be perceived as a someone who just can’t get the message that they are not interested.  

2. Send a Handwritten Note

Sometimes the key to our future lies in our past. If you have tried to call and email a contact and have gotten no response, why not get out the stationary and send them an old-fashioned, handwritten note. Chances are they haven’t received a handwritten note in a while and this will make you stand out amongst the crowd. It will also show them that you want to build a relationship with them badly enough to walk down to the post office or at the very least take the time to write the note. If that isn’t dedication I don’t know what is!

3. Send them Something of Value

I’m not talking about a bottle of wine or some law firm tchotchke, I want you to think deeper than that.  What would help them build their business, enhance their skills or add actual value to their life? I have sent referral sources books I know would be helpful to them, articles related to an industry trend they may not have read and even a coffee mug with a motivational quote I knew would be meaningful.  You don’t want to send anything over the top. But sending something that is meaningful, personal and took some consideration on your part, will leave a positive impression and just might get you the return call you desire.  

4. Let Them Know the Door is Always Open

If you have exhausted all avenues and they still haven’t contacted you, it’s time to admit defeat and move on. However, it is always a good idea to let them know that you are here if they need your services in the future. Consider having your final message sound something like, “So sorry we didn’t connect.  I am always available if you ever want to get together to exchange ideas or talk about how we might be able to help each other.”   

There you have it. A few ideas on how to deal with a contact who won’t get back in touch with you.

Have any additional thoughts on how to get a contact to call you back? Leave a comment down below. I love to hear your ideas.  

Until next time!


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