Here’s a simple way to keep your schedule sane while trying to be responsive to the professional networking requests (coffee, informational interviews, and the like) we all get.
When you get a request for a networking call/meeting and you’re not able to make time in your schedule for a 1-on-1 with the requester:
- Give the requester a time window in which you’re typically available but that’s low-value time for you (e.g. mine is when I am walking to/from the office – so I’m either on the phone or listening to music or a podcast).
- Give them your phone number.
- Ask them to call you on that number during the time window you specified.
No calendar invites. No back and forth emails. And you don’t have to say ‘No’, either.
You might think that this will result in your cell phone ringing off the hook. Trust me, it doesn’t. What you’ll actually find (and what I’ve found) is that many of the people who say they will call won’t actually call. (There’s probably some behavioral economics research that explains this, but I didn’t have time to look it up! 🙂
The result? Your schedule stays sane. The people who really feel they need your help will make an effort to connect with you despite not having a fixed meeting time. And you can still pay it forward.
(BTW, if you liked this hack, you might also like the Open Meeting hack as well.)