Four Tips to Avoid Time-Wasting Meetings

November 5, 2010 – 9:11 am | by Matt Ackerson

Wasted Networking Time

Have you ever had a meeting with someone and you left the meeting feeling like your time was completely wasted? I have, and chances are you have (or will) too.

Entrepreneurs and business minded people have a limited amount of time in the day (and in our lives in general) so it’s important that we strive to be as efficient as possible with our work time in order to maximize return and reach our goals.

Verbal communication is the most inefficient form of doing business, but it is also a necessary one. That being said, how can you determine in advance if someone is going to waste your time?

Based on first-hand experience I’ve compiled a key list of indicators to watch out for before meeting with someone :

1) You don’t know the person and they have not been introduced or referred to you by a trusted source. Be skeptical. Engage with these types of contacts first via email and then perhaps over the phone. Be willing to trust your gut; if something about them rubs you the wrong way, be willing to “cancel them out” meaning ignoring their email messages or other forms of communication.

2) The stated purpose of the meeting is vague. For instance, if you meet someone in person and they ask to have a follow-up meeting, be straightforward with them and ask why? Time is critical when you’re in start-up mode. The maximum number of seconds in a day (every day) should be devoted to productive pursuits that will grow the business.

3) He says something and then doesn’t do it. For example, if you initially meet the person at a networking event, and they say they want to have a follow-up meeting with you, but forget to follow through and schedule with you via email soon after. This is a likely indicator, even if the person corresponds with you later on, that their follow-through is lacking. That is not someone you want to talk business with. In another case, if someone you planned a meeting with misses the meeting, evaluate their excuse on a case by case basis. If you believe it is worth your time to give it another try, let them come to you and on your terms. Otherwise, forget about him or her completely. Do not waste another second thinking about it.

4) He lacks credibility and the promise of resourcefulness. If you are serious about engaging with a new contact, or if he is serious about engaging with you, run a Google search on his name. Look to see if he has a LinkedIn profile with a list of past work experience or projects he has completed. Judge people fairly based on their actions and past accomplishments. Are they educated and is this factor relevant to your meeting? How many other people are they connected to? Have other people written them references? Do you share any connections in common? Do they have a personal blog?

Ultimately, it is up to you to determine how your time is best spent. You might have meetings that are very unproductive, but highly enjoyable which might make them worth you time for that reason alone.

What other tips or indicators would you list here?

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