None of us want to miss opportunities, but we can’t say “yes” to every request. Then again, if we are unavailable, we may miss quality opportunities.
Ultimately the value you add, and the relationships you develop is what begets quality opportunities in the long-run. And, if you make time to process and make sense of the all the conversations and information you’re digesting, you will be more attune to promising opportunities.
Time is our most limited resource and your calendar is the battleground. Following are a selection of tips and thoughts for anyone feeling overwhelmed or whose time is in high demand:
Priority and Establish a Routine. We can only have a prepared mind about a limited set of things. Depending on the person that may be a long list or a short list, but we can’t know everything. Instead of trying to spend time to see *everything* prioritize and establish productive routines.
- Get rid of the notion that other people have a right to your time. We all want to be helpful, and this was the hardest one for me to let go
- Prioritize your trusted network + warm intros
- "Deprioritize" the unhelpful and reinvest time in your long-term relationships
- Once a week, work your inbox to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Things pile up and you end up having to limit responses to things that are most urgent/important, leaving anything else that requires more time and thought but isn’t as pressing
Meetings. Focus on quality over quantity. Limit meeting duration to less than 30 minutes
- Offer 45-minute meetings to strong referrals
- Learn how to end meetings. Despite what the calendar says; once you’ve accomplished what everyone came to do, politely but forcefully wrap up
- Start with “How can I be helpful?” It gets to the point and increases efficiency
- Avoid having follow-ups from meetings. If you’re passing on an opportunity, you usually know. Tell them quickly and remember the second-best response is a fast “no.”
- Often times, the best thing to do is connect someone with another person who can be more helpful
Emails and Social. You can’t respond to all inquiries
- Do not accept LinkedIn requests from people you’ve never met. And, delete 99% of InMails
- Be accessible through blogging and turn frequently asked questions into blog posts, then share the relevant post but decline a meeting whenever anyone else asks. This is actually what motivated this post!
- Use a CRM. Im amazed at the number of times the same people will try to schedule separate meetings with my partner and I
- Use youcanbook.me or calendly: I’ve used both to allow folks to self-schedule meetings and avoid the coordination
- Use an Echo or Alexa. You can link either to your calendar and ask what you have to do each morning. She’ll tell you - because robots and AI are the future!!
Finally, don’t obsess about efficiency. You meet people all the time and there’s no pressure to have an outcome. Try to maintain a sense of fun. Business is simply people helping people!