Maybe you’re like me and have gone through periods when clients or perspective clients weren’t respecting your time. I myself was getting way too frustrated with these non-existent meetings and the people I had appointments with. And then I realized that while I couldn’t correct the situation entirely, there were a few things I could do.
I came up with these four strategies for myself. Will they all work for you? Maybe not. Are they labor intensive? Some of them. But ask yourself, which ones are important to you. Do you want to spend an extra couple minutes now or waste a bunch of time later? Here are my suggestions to avoid being stood up at business meetings:
1. Set the Time Early
When you’re trying to coordinate calendars by going back and forth over email, it’s easy to get lost in a lot of “Well, when are you free?” Don’t play that game. Start the conversation by telling the other person several specific times or blocks of time that work for you. Not just one. This will limit the back and forth emails significantly and guide them to making an early decision.
2. Send The Calendar Appointment
I’ve had a few clients miss meetings because they told me they didn’t add it to their calendar. Solve that problem ahead of time by being the one who sends the calendar appointment. Create the calendar appointment with a very clear subject and location and add your client to it. The only thing they’ll have to do is “accept” the invite. Make sure to also include your name and the company you are from.
As the meeting approaches check that appointment to make sure they have accepted it. If they haven’t, follow up and make sure they are still good to meet at that time. An unconfirmed meeting invite is an indication that you need to reach out.
3. Add Contact Information
In the description of the appointment, add your email and phone number as well as your client’s email and cell phone number. If it’s not in their signature, ask them for it.
I’ve often found myself running between meetings and waiting for my next appointment unsure if I’m being stood up. Now, I always have access to my client’s contact info without having to dig through my emails to find it. When I arrive at the location, be it a coffee shop or another non-office location, I always send a text to let them know I have arrived. This will prevent the whole “standing back-to-back looking in opposite directions of each other” situation.
4. Call the Client
Scheduling calls is often a better use of time than in-person meetings but can be just as frustrating if you are waiting for somebody to call you.
Often times, I tell my clients that I will be calling them. If they don’t pick up, I usually move onto my next task without wondering when my phone is going to ring. Sometimes they’ll call me, and if they don’t, I usually make a note to follow up in a few days.
A great speaker named Danielle LaPorte always says, “Do what you say you’re going to do.” It never ceases to amaze me how often people don’t. It also surprises me how often I try to talk myself out of doing things I said I’d do.
Yes, it takes some time, and it’s sometimes easier to just put our heads down and not stop the tasks we’re working on to take a meeting. Follow these suggestions and you’ll end up saving yourself a ton of time and headaches down the road.
Plus you’ll have you have fewer reasons to get pissed off at people. And that’s good for the planet.