If you happen to be a job seeker (currently employed or not), then that is certainly the case; meaning, it is in the nature of your job (the job being “job seeker”). When you first initiate business conversations, it usually is in the form of a cover letter and résumé—a qualified, specific instance of an “infomercial” letter and flyer.
In any case: following up is important. The sources you contact may have hundreds of other projects on their plate (or, specifically, hundreds of other résumés to sift through), and it is critical for you to keep, or regain, their attention. Much of your “competition” won’t even follow up (because they’ve let it slack or because they’ve moved on), so this tenaciousness can only work in your favor.
Take control: Say you will follow up, and how, and when.
Not only do you establish protocol with a proactive announcement, you anticipate that the other side won’t be contacting you in the meantime. The announcement has two benefits: for one, it lets the other side off the hook, by communicating “It’s OK if you don’t respond—I’ll get back to you regardless”; and for another, it leaves the door open for you to move on to the next step in the conversation, even though they may not have responded.
My favorite announcement goes something like this: “I will follow up on the phone within two weeks of this letter.” Assuming you first made contact in writing, they have formed a first impression based on the quality of your writing. Now here’s your chance to get a first impression of your voice into the mix—to refresh, enhance, and “broaden” their first impression of you. (Unless they said “No phone calls”; that should be respected).
If you are anxious about calling, or worry about bothering them in the middle of something: don’t call them during their workday—call early in the morning, before they even get there. Voice mail systems usually come with date stamps, and it will make a good impression you called at 6:43 a.m. Successful people take care of business before breakfast!
Just make sure your voice mail goes on no longer than 30 seconds. Nobody wants to listen to longer voice mails; every second they spend listening feels like five as it is. Oh, and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays are generally better for doing your follow-up than Mondays and Fridays, which tend to be the busier days of the week.
When you say you will do something, follow through with it.
Did you notice the sample follow-up announcement above included the phrase “within two weeks”? That means you can follow up as soon as one week or as late as two weeks from now. That’s about one week’s worth of a “buffer” you can give yourself—plenty of leeway to allow for weekends, holidays, or days you may be caught up in other things.
The main thing is you do what you said you were going to do. This will get across that you are a person of your word, which will reflect well on your professionalism. No matter what your interaction with that source may be like in the future, it can only work in your favor that they first got to know you for being purposeful, organized, and reliable.