Every time I give a marketing workshop or talk to a new coaching client, I hear the question: “Aren’t I bugging people if I keep following up with them?”

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The answer is no. The only circumstances under which you would ever be “bugging” prospective clients would be if they’ve already told you they are not at all interested in what you offer, or asked you specifically to stop contacting them. In any other situation, your continued contact with a potential client is not only acceptable, it is often welcome.

Following up with someone who has shown interest in what you do isn’t pushy; it’s professional. When prospective clients say they aren’t ready to work with you now, but might be at some point in the future, they are expecting you to contact them again. The more time that passes when they don’t hear from you, the less likely it becomes that you will ever hear from them.

Deciding that someone has “shown interest” doesn’t require that he or she has said they would like to work with you some day. If contacts have signed up for your mailing list, attended a presentation you gave, or asked questions about your work when you met, they have shown interest.

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you don’t need to follow up, because potential clients will contact you when they need you. When prospects finally do need the service you offer, who do you think they will contact — the professional they exchanged business cards with and never heard from again, or the professional who has followed up with them consistently since the two of you first came in contact?

When your call or email reaches a prospective client at the exact moment they need you, you look like a hero. It has happened to me many, many times when I reach out to a prospect that he or she responds, “I’m so glad you contacted me.”

Your potential clients are busy. Even once they realize they could use your help, it may take them weeks to contact you. In the meantime, one of your competitors who is diligently following up may get their business instead.

You need to recognize that you are much more conscious of your follow-up than your prospects are. While you are thinking, “Oh, I just contacted that person last month,” they are not thinking of you at all. When you reach them at a time when they don’t need you, they ignore or quickly forget your communication. They may even forget your name or where to find you. That’s why they need to keep hearing from you.

One more reason to persist in following up — your repeated contacts remind people of what you do. Maybe they don’t need you right now, but they know someone who does. If they hadn’t heard from you, they wouldn’t have remembered. When you reach out, you jog their memory and prompt a referral.

Any time you start to feel like following up is pushy or a waste of time, visualize the potential clients out there who are waiting to hear from you. They do exist, and getting their business is only an email or call away.

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