In the 7 weeks since I started my new job at Matrix, I have scheduled 127 meetings. This is about 18 meetings per week, or 3.8 per day. All of this scheduling has made me realize that, when scheduling meetings with people who don't work at your company, there is an art to being efficient without sounding like a jerk.
There is a certain power dynamic involved in scheduling meetings. Who picks the time and where you are going to meet plays into this and we all have a choice. You can use meeting scheduling to posture yourself as the more "important" party or aim to streamline your scheduling to be as efficient as possible. I am all about efficiency, so here are a couple quick do's and don'ts to make sure you don't waste anyone time or come off as a jerk.
Don't tell someone to "Send me a calendar invite".
I don't care who you are. Telling someone to "Send me a calendar invite" should always be followed by the sentence "I'm just so important and busy!" If you aren't willing to write that, don't tell someone to send you a calendar invite. There is almost no way this comes across as anything other than douchey.
Don't send your calendar and say, "Pick a time".
I know a lot of people LOVED Tungle. I know it is supposed to make life easier by making your calendar accessible to anyone. However, whenever I get someone's calendar sent to me with the instructions to "Pick a time" I get irritated. It's almost as if you are saying you don't have the time to have the conversation and set something up. (The one exception is with service appointments. I LOVE it when I am dealing with a service representative I can easily get on their calendar for a time that works for both of us.)
Don't refuse to say when you are free.
If I throw a couple of times out there to meet, and none of them work, send back some alternative times. Don't just say, "Sorry I'm not free during those times." Suggest some that do work for you, and hopefully we can find something that works for both of us. Everyone gets busy, but if you don't have time to look at your calendar and figure out when it might work for you, you also probably don't have time to meet.
Don't assume that we are going to meet.
There is a difference between scheduling a meeting and requesting a meeting. If you don't know the person you are asking to meet with, don't send an email that says, "I'd love to get lunch. When are you free?" This implies that the person has consented to meet, and it doesn't allow them to graceful decline. This might be what you are aiming for, but there is no doubt that is a jerky move.
Do suggest a couple of times you are free.
Why should we have to go back and forth 4 times before we can start saying what times work? I generally throw out a couple of times that work for me in the first email (or second if the first was to request a meeting). I give choices on a variety of days and times, hoping that one works for them. I think on average this can cut the number of emails required to schedule the meeting in half.
Do suggest a place to meet, or indicate if you are flexible on location.
Location can sometimes be tricky. I generally do my best to figure out where someone is located and then suggest a place that is convenient to both, or in the middle. If I don't know where they are located (and can't figure it out in 30 seconds by looking on their companies website) I'll suggest something near me, but indicate if I flexible.
My goal in all of this is efficiency, not power plays. I'm scheduled a lot of meetings. If I can cut down the number of emails so that I can schedule a meeting in less than 5, I'm a happy girl.
Do you have any tips for more efficiently meeting with people?
Photo Credit: Levork