Welcome to Inbox Advisor, an advice column brought to you by the masterminds behind TouchingBase.io. If you want to turn leads into paying clients, using email reminders is only half the battle. The other half is actually writing and sending the email! Tell us what’s stopping you from sending that follow-up, and we’ll find a solution. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below to share your dilemma.
Dear Inbox Advisor,
A few weeks ago, I went to an event. There were lots of former co-workers and clients in attendance, and I had a blast reconnecting with all of them. I was chatting with a former boss of mine when a woman approached us. I recognized her face immediately, but couldn’t think of her name or where I knew her from. Despite my confusion, I initiated a friendly hug and gave her my business card.
I treated her like an old friend, but I had no idea who she was.
The event started minutes later, and I didn’t get a chance to speak with Mystery Woman again the rest of the day. I forgot all about her. Lo and behold, later that week she connected with me on LinkedIn. Even looking at her name, photo and work background, I STILL couldn’t figure out where I knew her from.
My question is this: How do I go about following up with Mystery Woman? I don’t want to make a fool of myself by admitting I have NO idea how we know each other. But I also don’t want to miss out on a potential new client. I’m in too deep to ask her about our history, but I feel like I can’t follow up until I have that info in my pocket.
It’s been a week and I still haven’t emailed her. How do I approach this awkward situation?
Dear Acquaintance Amnesia,
Ah, the dreaded Mystery Person! Where did they come from? How on Earth do you know them?
It’s a problem we’ve all faced at one time or another, especially if you’re bad with faces or names. Who hasn’t talked with someone at a party…only to realize you don’t know their name…and it’s way too late to ask? You try to get a peek at their driver’s license, or pull a stranger into the conversation in hopes that they’ll re-introduce themselves.
The lengths we’ll go to so we don’t look stupid!
In situations like these, honesty is usually the best policy. Especially in a business scenario, it’s better to come clean and admit ignorance than play along and risk more confusion down the line.
Here’s what I recommend.
Before you follow up with Mystery Woman, do some detective work. If you’re connected on LinkedIn, you already have her name. So Google it. See if any of the search results jog your memory.
Next, go into your email and search for her. Start with her first and last name. If that doesn’t yield anything, try just her first name. You should be able to find any prior email communication, and/or other people you may know in common.
You can also reach out to a few colleagues across your network and discreetly ask if they know anything about her.
If your investigation yields any helpful info, you should be able to write a solid follow-up email from there.
If you still have no clue, you can still craft a suave follow-up. Here are a couple of short-and-sweet scripts to get you started. Feel free to copy and paste, or tweak to make them your own.
Email Script #1
This script works as a way to get Mystery Woman on the phone so you can find out more information. This also works if you aren’t sure she remembers you. (Imagine the awkwardness she might experience if you flat-out asked her where you met, and she didn’t know. She may never respond to you out of mortification. And there goes a solid lead!)
Subject line: Catch up?
Hi, [MYSTERY WOMAN’S FIRST NAME],
So great running into you at [EVENT NAME] a few weeks ago. We didn’t really get a chance to chat, and I’d love to find out what you’re up to these days. Are you free for a call next Wednesday or Thursday?
[YOUR FIRST NAME]
Email Script #2
If you’re comfortable being upfront about the fact that you don’t remember her, and you can pull off a good self-deprecating tone, this is the script for you. This assumes that she remembers you better than you remember her, which may very well be the case, especially since she took the initiative to walk up to you at the event and to connect with you on LinkedIn.
Subject line: Long time no see!
Hi, [MYSTERY WOMAN’S FIRST NAME],
Nice to see you at [EVENT NAME]! It’s been so long…and this is actually kind of embarrassing…but I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember how we first met.
Do you remember? Talk about feeling old…!
[YOUR FIRST NAME]
You can also include a funny image like this one to lighten the mood:
Basically, be as honest as you’re comfortable being, and don’t worry about the one minute of awkwardness you might experience. Awkwardness is worth it if it means building a profitable business relationship and nurturing a contact into a trusted client.
Good luck and stay in touch,
Have a networking or follow-up dilemma for Inbox Advisor? Send an email or leave your question in the comments. We’ll do our best to answer your question and give you exact email scripts you can copy and paste.