The Danger Of A Single Email

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subtle-lined-envelopesSo yesterday I stumbled upon a guy who was very upset with me. In his words I ignored him when he needed help to publicize a fund raiser his mother’s kidney transplant. He was so visibly upset with me that I thought he must have mixed me up with someone else…but no it was me. I was accused of showing no empathy, not caring about the seriousness of his mother’s health and not caring if she lived or died. Why?

Because he sent a single email to me in November of 2013 and because I did not respond to that single email, he had harbored this hate without ever even meeting me. Weird…but let’s side step the fact that I get all sorts of weird and un-weird emails at different times of the day asking for anything from book publishing advice to financial assistance. Let us also sidestep the fact that I try and respond to all the emails I receive no matter how weird. Let’s side step all of that, Instead let me tell you a little bit about how I got my first professional job…

In 2001 I was stuck on the University of Houston campus searching for a job, but nobody would hire me…because I was an international student. Which basically meant I was neither a permanent resident of citizen of America and thus my job options ranged from limited to non-existent.

One day a certain lady named Linda (last name omitted) came to an engineering student organization meeting, she said she worked with company XYZ and that company was actually hiring International students. I was excited!

They could have been hiring cleaners or security guards and I would not have cared all I knew was that they hired international students. So after the meeting I walked up to the front of the meeting room and introduced myself to Linda. We spoke for about 30 quick seconds about her presentation and potential job opportunities with her company … she reiterated the fact that they did hire international students and could thus hire me. She gave me her card, which had her email address and phone number. I was elated…the first thing I did was to send an email…

But nothing, no response. I sent another email but still nothing. I waited a few days and then sent another email plus a phone call which ended up going to voicemail. I kept at this email/phone-call routine for what I would say was about a month…

Until one day I got a call out of the blue. It was Linda…I thought she was calling to have me arrested for stalking but no, she called to let me know that she had seen my emails and that her company was having interviews at the University of Houston the next day. She asked if I was interested in being interviewed …. the rest they say was history.

You see I got my first job not by sending a single email, but  by sending several emails and by doing following ups consistently…almost bordering on stalking. But I kept at it, cause I needed that job badly.

And to date that has been my life strategy…follow up follow up follow up. With potential clients, investors and business partners I keep following up … until they say “stop stalking me you crazy black man” “NO.”  

That’s why I roll my eyes (yes some guys do roll their eyes), when people say I sent an email but they did not respond so they must not like me…really! Like do you know how many emails ‘they’ received that day? Do you know if maybe the email went into their spam folder?

And that’s the danger with a single email … it gives the false pretense that  communication has been established when in fact it has not. But instead of verifying and prodding further the sender creates assumptions almost bothering on hate as to why their email was not responded to. Aside from the fact that it is hurtful, it is also opportunity limiting …

So don’t just send a single email and then make assumptions … keep following up until you hear something!

PS: Glad to say that his mother is now receiving treatment overseas. Wishing her the best!

twitterWritten and Drawn By Okechukwu Ofili of
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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
Follow him on Twitter
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Read his crazy titled books on okadabooks 



38 comments on “The Danger Of A Single Email

  1. Trust me, Oke is RIGHT. In fact, I have been known to follow up emails with ‘Just in case’ sms messages and eventually an ‘how are you oh but btw, did you see my mail’ phone call. *smiling*

    I remember even telling my mgm recently that sometimes the person at the other end of your mail WANTS to see HOW serious you are or how badly you want something so just sending an email or asking once is not going to cut it.

    Bottom line? Life does not owe us any favours o! If you want it, go for it again and again and again.

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      Salt thanks for sharing. You hit the nail on the head! Sometimes the person on the other end wants to see who wants it more. If they receive 50 emails in a day and only one person follows up…guess who has a larger chance of getting the call. The answer is obvious.

  2. Thanks for this article, I am guilty of single emails or one call or text. I have changed from today. And by the way does Chimamanda know about this title? LoL

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      I sent her a single but awesome email asking for permission but she did not respond. I took her silence as yes =D

  3. Maureen on said:

    This is very true Ofili and can be linked to the business ecosystem. It is one key value as a Business Development /Client Manager
    Focusing on the prize/Goal/Pursuits, we need to learn how to be persistent/persevere until we reach a dead-end or receive a “NO”

  4. this is so apt…every young person wanting to succeed needs to read this…a lot of people have a false sense of entitlement when all they need to do is constantly follow up…even though some people na wa sha!!!!!…plain evil
    but following up is just what everyone needs
    great article

  5. Word of advice from Miss Stalker herself. Send Emails, resend them and resend them again. Call, if they don’t pick then send an sms and resend until you get a yes or that NO that may kill your morale but not strong enough to keep you from stalking the next person. Truth is you are not the only one bugging anyone you want to get to. The last i remembered you really don’t have anything to lose but to get a NO.

    Thanks Ofili for sharing and thank you for not blocking me from stalking you. 🙂
    GIZI latest post is Why We All Need To Get Some Cool ShadesMy Profile

  6. I was once a victim of this. Not my email though, but facebook outbox. I missed a really awesome writing oppurtunity because the sender wasn’t my friend so the message automatically went to my outbox. And seriously, how many people check their outbox. To cut story short, when I saw it, it was too late. *bursts into tears for the 1652th time*

    • Ofili
      Ofili on said:

      M.Y… the facebook one is really bad because it is not obvious at all. I lost important emails that was sent 2 years ago, never new I had another inbox.

  7. Chanchadas on said:

    Okechukwu Ofili, you remain one of my favorite people on earth.

    Thank you for stressing the importance of “following up”.

    P.S – I’ve heard your story of Linda (last name with-held) so many times but it brings me back to one of the fundamental of success; persistence!

  8. Melody on said:

    Hello Ofili,

    This as we like to put it in officialese – is a gentle reminder.
    Thank you because I just needed to hear this again – follow up!

  9. augusta on said:

    You are a stalker…pure and simple. All this big big grammar & stealing Chimamanda’s title will not hide it lol. On the other hand, pele o. I don’t want to imagine the amount of emails, posts, fb messages, sms, etc you get in a day! Just thinking about it is giving me malaria.

  10. This is very true.

    I always follow up. I usually wait 2 days before resending emails.
    Also, always always always check your Spam folder. and every other folder in your email.
    Lade latest post is Am I A Feminist?My Profile

  11. Pingback: Danger of a Single Email: Don’t Give Up Yet | Mkenya Ujerumani

  12. It’s wonderful that the two of you are close enough to share things like this.
    Twenty years passed, but ‘Ghost’ starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze is always considered to be one of the most beloved
    films in the history. I want to settle down and have kids,
    just like my parents.
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  13. I usually get angry if the person is someone I knw. (Happened recently). But if its a new aquittance… I giv it two to five follow ups. But I gues I hv to change dat nw

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