This morning I had a surprise in my inbox. An email form a person I interviewed last week and whom I asked for some referrals for further interviews. Normal stuff you’ll say. Well it depends where you are from, and who you are talking about.
In some cultures one thing is to promise a follow-up, and another thing is just to do it. Sure, you thought you could give a hand, but in the end you would have had to look for the promised piece of information, maybe act on it (like in the case of checking whether a particular person wanted to be contacted), and then communicate this. But what finally happened is that you didn’t have time to do it, didn’t bother, didn’t do it. Not a big deal if I don’t follow-up you say.
Well, here in the Netherlands I got all the follow up that was promised by all the people that I met. No one forgot, no one didn’t bother, no one didn’t do it! During an interview my recorder died and I didn’t have any way to record the interview, something that I really need to be able to go back to it later on when I write my article. So what happened? The person I was interviewing offered to record the conversation with his smartphone. Thank you! really appreciate that. And the best thing is that the person DID follow up, he did send me the large mp3 file, and to do so he had to find a suitable online file transfer service, and also create an ad-hoc email address to activate the transfer service.
I’m impressed by the consistency of the follow up attitude!
Who are you talking with?
Back to the email from this morning. Who is that followed up on our conversation? Again, in some cultures you don’t even expect that an important person, or a person working for an important organization would follow up. It’s a matter of status. YOU have to reach out, they don’t have time, they have a lot of things to do, they are important.
Well not in the Netherlands: the email was from the person I interviewed at the Ministry of Economy, and she wrote me just before leaving for well deserved holidays. Can you imagine some policy maker in some Ministry of some country come back to you, and do it despite s/he’s just about to leave for a week or so?
I’m impressed by how this society is really flat and interactions are down to earth, no posing or assuming behaviors, just plain value interactions among people. Another key to innovation?