Sure, squeezing 30 minutes out of a day isn’t a logistical hat trick. Suggest a time, send an invitation, and presto, there’s a slot set aside on the calendar.
That’s when making the meeting really starts. I’m talking about “making” in the way someone “makes” a play that changes the outcome of a game. The ingredients of time and interest can be made all the better for a few added ingredients.
For me, these ingredients can mean the difference between a warmer connection with an out-of-town VC and an unsubscribe from my next newsletter. I’ve test-kitchen certified these ways to boost what you can get out of 30 minutes.
4. Get there early.
The there can be a google hangout, a conference call, or the nearest Starbucks, each with their own set of logistics. Getting directions, confirmation codes, and phone numbers baked into your calendar invites will help focus on the person on the other end, rather than the traffic or how to get on the call.
The other element of getting there early happens before I touch a button or start the car. Advance research on the person I’m meeting is part of my process. I want to show up with enough background to have a few ideas where their work overlaps with mine and how we might be helpful to each other. I see it as a gesture of respect. That leads me to the next point.
3. Know the “why” before you send the e-vite.
When I ask for a business meeting, I have something specific in mind. Usually, I want to hear about their investment thesis and get permission to keep them updated on our portfolio. Other times, it’s more specific, like an intro. Regardless, I want the other person to know the purpose for meeting and take it because they want to talk about that topic. Otherwise, I’m happy to save the hemming, hawing, and time. No hard feelings, promise.
2. Stash the devices.
There are certain things humans do best when they are communicating in real time with other humans. Putting the phone/tablet/laptop away encourages a people-focused mode. I can jot down something that will capture the meeting better after it’s wrapped up, anyway.
It goes deeper, though. Peeping at my phone when I’m sitting across the table from someone implies that I’m bored, nervous, or think too much of myself. Any of those signals can tank a meeting, so I slide my phone into my very large purse before it starts. If I have a specific time I need to depart, I may set a timer before I do. Otherwise, there are plenty of other ways to find out what time it is, including the clocks that magically still exist.
1. Conclude the “what now” before you leave.
I try to walk away/hang up with a few things that I’ve agreed to do and an agreed-upon timeframe. It’s directly related to the “why” that I established before the meeting. Sometimes with other little things going along for the ride, like advice on what to do in my hometown, Charleston.
Whipping out my favorite device makes sense at this point. I’ll shamelessly email myself sitting in my car or walking back to the office. A fresh record creates clarity that helps me follow through in a way that makes a good impression.
That’s the bottom line for me, getting a meeting is always an opportunity to deepen a connection by showing that I value the other person’s time and work. Having drunk what seem like gallons of coffee and been on weeks of calls, I can say these elements consistently help me do just that.