Have you waited long enough or should you continue to play it cool? Are they going to think you’re desperate if you call? Your mind is a jumble of a hundred different questions as you puzzle over the best way to do one of the simplest things: follow up.

Whether you are trying to land a second date, the job of your dreams, some VC funding or your next big sale, the follow-up is enough to give even the most seasoned professional pause. Moving your relationships to the next level hinges on your ability to ace this one simple message.

You need to be appreciative, but not desperate, provide value, but don’t bribe, and be straight forward, but not overbearing. The perfect follow-up is about truly understanding your relationship with the other party and tailoring accordingly. It doesn’t matter if we are discussing dating or sales — the same principles apply.

Below are a few guidelines to help make sure that your follow-up will leave your recipient as excited about the relationship as you are.

1. Don’t Be Desperate

Even if your first interaction went perfectly, it is important to assure the other party that they still have their own space. Follow up in a timely manner, but give them plenty of time to respond. If your recipient doesn’t get back to you right away, sending ten more emails (or text messages) is not going to help you move things forward.

2. Show Appreciation

In your follow-up, be sure to show your appreciation for the other party’s time and insights. Everyone enjoys a little appreciation and acknowledging the value the other party provides can leave them feeling good about your meeting. Be careful not to suck up too much. Your recipient knows you want something from this relationship and will not be won over by flattery alone.

3. Present Value

Your follow-up should never be frivolous. The message should add to the relationship by sharing an idea, useful content, helpful information, or future plans (like an idea for a second date!). Continually adding value to your relationship will help keep the other party interested and enthusiastic.

4. Don’t Play Games

The most important lesson of all is to never play games. Call when you say you will and be direct. Nobody has ever appreciated being played hot and cold or enjoyed receiving the silent treatment. It certainly is not going to score you any new sales and will likely not be a huge help in securing a second date either.

Despite a level of intimidation, likely built into us by our experiences dating in high school, the follow-up has a very straightforward set of guidelines that can help you move your relationships forward. Keep these rules in mind and you may start to see the number of callbacks rising, and maybe even one or two second dates!