You think you have a hot lead because you have an initial back and forth and the person seems interested in meeting with you or helping you…and then crickets (this is when a hot lead turns cold). You send an email, and it’s not returned. You try again, thinking the person might not have received the first email, but you don’t get a reply to that email either. Now you worry that if you send a third message you will seem like a pest. When a hot lead turns cold, here are five ways to rekindle that lost connection:
Mix up your mode of contact
Maybe your emails are going into the junk folder, or your recipient is particularly behind on email. Try a phone call, social media outreach, or even snail mail if sending a card or package might make sense. The different types of contact will capture your recipient’s attention more easily than repeating the same form of communication.
Try a different time of day
Just like you mix up your mode of contact, try mixing up your timing and sending communications at different times of the day – early morning, after work, or weekends. If you’re trying to reach someone at their personal email, you might catch them more readily on their personal time. Even if you’re sending to their work email, your message would arrive outside of the busiest time of the day.
Change the subject
Of course your first try should pick up where you left off in your back and forth. Your second try might even refer back to your initial conversation. But after that, change the subject altogether and find something else to talk about that could still be of interest to the other person. For example, send them an article related to a business issue their working on. Or if you know them well enough to know their personal interests, make a recommendation around a book or an event they might find interesting.
Create a deadline
Your conversation might have trailed off because the other person didn’t realize the urgency in your request. Let’s say you asked to have a longer conversation about someone’s line of work. But you’re gainfully employed and didn’t mention you were in the throes of a job search, so the other person thinks that you’re just curious and that they have all the time in the world to get back to you. Instead, mention specifically that you’d like to talk about their line of work in preparation for a meeting on THIS DATE. The date makes clear that you need to hear back by a certain time. Of course, it still could be that your calendars don’t align but at least the person knows there is urgency to respond. And if you don’t have a specific deadline, create one. This also forces you to be diligent about your follow up.
Enroll a mutual friend
If you try all of these things and still don’t get a response, see if you can get a mutual friend involved to help nudge the other person along. You might try to set up a coffee date for all three of you. Or you could check if your mutual friend can contact your cold lead and mention you. I don’t recommend regularly enlisting a third party to help your networking along because adding another person and another schedule to the mix complicates things, but it’s another way to mix up your approach and do something different.
When a hot lead turns cold, you have to do something different to break through the plateau. This doesn’t mean doing something odd like sending a balloon gram or something overly aggressive like showing up unannounced. This also doesn’t mean you contact the person more frequently – I would stretch out the time between your subsequent attempts up to a month in-between communications. However, I would continue to make contact in a polite and respectful way. No response doesn’t necessarily mean No – it really could be that the person means to get back and needs your regular prompting. At the same time, you should continue expanding and maintaining your network outside this connection so it’s easier for you to wait. Networking is a numbers game. You never want to be so dependent on any one lead.
This post originally appears in my Forbes column.