There is not much more frustrating, annoying and unprofessional than driving to an appointment and the person doesn’t show. It has only happened to me a few times in my career (and none recently) but I remember them clearly.
You can help ensure your appointment holds by being organized and proactive. The following are my tips for increasing those odds.
Agree on date, time and place
Many appointments are scheduled via email these days. If possible, schedule the appointment over the phone and decide on the logistics while on the phone. I know this won’t always happen so if you arrange the meeting via email, include the following when requesting the meeting:
Date – Include the day of the week and the date. For example, use Tuesday, August 20, 2013 instead of August 20. Dates can get mixed up. If you provide the day and the date, it is conclusive as to when the meeting will occur.
Time – Give a starting and ending time. Meetings are disruptive to a day’s schedule so help yourself and the other person by providing start and end times.
Place – If you have the flexibility, meet at your appointment’s place of business. You can do this even if meeting for lunch. Meet at his/her office and then ride to lunch together. If that doesn’t work, meet as close to his/her office as possible. That should decrease the chance of him/her being late due to traffic.
Send a calendar invite
Take the effort to put the appointment on the other person’s calendar rather than relying on him/her to do it. Create an Outlook appointment with all the details. The appointment will be for the time you previously agreed on but it is also a good idea to write the anticipated time in the body of the appointment. That will decrease the chance for confusion.
Set an agenda
Create an agenda for the meeting so your appointment knows what to expect. Maybe you just want to get to know one another so a formal agenda is not necessary. You can still provide a few talking points in your calendar invite. It won’t hurt. It will help.
Cell phone numbers
Provide your cell phone number and email address to the other person. I usually indicate in the calendar invite that “In case something comes up, you can reach me on my cell phone at 555.555.5555. Texting is fine if you want. You can also reach me via email since I can check it on my phone.”
Also, ask for his/her phone number so you can do the same. Unfortunately, I’ve had to cancel some meetings due to unforeseen circumstances and having the other person’s phone number helped tremendously. Program the phone number in your cell phone as soon as you get it so if you receive a call or text you will know who it’s from.
Contact a week before the meeting
Follow-up with your contact the week before the meeting to verify the meeting is still set. Use positive language in your email or phone call instead of negative language. By that, I mean, state, “I wanted to verify our meeting for Tuesday, August 20, still works with your schedule.” Don’t insinuate that it is okay to change the meeting. If you do, the meeting will likely be postponed or cancelled.
Contact the morning of the meeting
Send a short email the morning of your meeting verifying the meeting is still set. If the meeting is in the early morning, send the email the previous afternoon. It may surprise you by the number of times you will be thanked for reminding him/her because something made him/her forget about your meeting.
Follow-up after the meeting
The worst thing you can do is go to a meeting and then do nothing with the relationship. Business transactions today occur because of relationships. It takes a lot of work and time to build relationships. So follow-up your meeting in at least two ways:
1. Send a hand-written thank you note. This used to be common practice. The best and most sincere people with still send a hand-written note. It shows you care. It shows you will care about the relationship.
2. Give something. I don’t mean send a gift. It’s even better than that. Send an email or make a phone call and offer to introduce the person to someone else in your network who would be beneficial for him/her to meet. If you know of someone who would be a good match for his/her business, refer that person. Maybe it could be another referral source. This is so easy to do if you work at building the size and quality of your network.
Do you think these steps will help your appointments hold more often? You won’t know unless you try. Since I implemented this structure to my meetings, I haven’t been stood up once. Meetings will still be postponed because emergencies arise but you won’t be left waiting.
Leave a comment below with additional tips for holding successful meetings and appointments. I’d love to learn about what I can do to make mine even better.