Imagine you’re finally in touch with an industry professional who can help you in your career.
Maybe he’s an editor for Marvel Comics or maybe she’s a development executive at Disney who is interested in hearing more about an idea you have for an animated TV show.
You got in touch with this person at a convention or through a friend or because you have a job at the same studio.
You receive a response that sounds something like this:
“Yeah, Chris, I’d love to connect. Let’s set something up.”
And then, in all your excitement and sweetness, you bring the momentum-gaining opportunity to a standstill:
“Awesome! Thanks so much. What works for you?”
And then? Radio silence.
“What works for you?”
It’s a reasonable question.
After all, this person’s time is extremely valuable – partially because they are so busy.
But I’ve found that a response like “What works for you?” or “What’s your schedule like?” complicates and/or dissolves most potential meetings.
Too many times have I received the attention I need to move forward and somehow lost it all during the invitation.
So many potentially life-changing meetings ended this way… …before they even began.
I received some very helpful advice from a book or a mentor… …I can’t remember the source but it might be in “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferazzi. I’ll have to check.
When you finally have the attention and invitation of a person ahead of you take the initiative.
Of course, I don’t have to tell you not to be annoying because you already understand and apply that.
Taking the initiative is impressive and freeing to the potential mentor/ boss/ collaborator etc… where being annoying is – well – annoying.
So when you’re setting up an appointment with someone and they say something like:
“Sure, Chris, I’d love to meet. Come by my office and we’ll talk.” respond with a couple of definitive options.
“Great! I have openings Tuesday at 3pm and Thursday at 11am. Do you have a preference?”
Or you might even be able to cut one more step out of the process:
“Awesome. I’ll come by your office Monday morning around 10.”
The point is:
You already have the invitation.
It will just confuse and stress out the other person to have to do the planning. Just take the opportunity and run with it.
They will write back if Monday morning doesn’t work for them. And even if they don’t write you back to change the plan, you’ll show up at their proverbial doorstep because they already gave you the invitation. They will either find a way to work it in (you might have to sit and wait for a few minutes) or tell you to come back later but then you’ll have something even more solid.
Whether you give them two or three choices or just one, if they are serious about meeting with you it will be much easier on them if you do the planning and organization. Some people have assistants that will set up the meeting but even the assistants have limited time, energy and patience (not to mention higher priorities).
By taking the initiative and deciding on a time or offering a couple of options, you will probably turn many more potential opportunities into real ones.
You’ll have to use your own instincts, manners and common sense to decide on the nuances of every individual encounter but just don’t put the burden on the person who is already offering you an opportunity.
What’s one potential meeting or opportunity for connection that dissolved right in front of you?
Share in the comments below.
…and then call first thing tomorrow and get the ball rolling again!