As a current or aspiring entrepreneur, you should be meeting with a ton of people (potential customers, investors, biz dev partners, employees, journalists).
You will often get introduced via email or you are cold-emailing them.
You are probably excited to meet with them and correctly assume that they are busier than you. So, like the nice person you are, you want to be as flexible as possible.
And, that’s when you make the mistake of saying: “I’m pretty free the next two weeks, let me know when works for you.”
You may think you are being nice and flexible; but, you’re actually frustrating them.
What you actually just said: “Hey, why don’t you spend some time going through your schedule, pick out some times that work and email them to me. I’ll then sit back and pick one that I like.”
If you really want to be respectful of their time (and you should), your goal is to have them do as little work as possible to get the meeting arranged.
Eric Friedman made some good suggestions on how to most effectively set up an appointment and I’ll reiterate them here with some additional tips based on my experience.
You should do this from the very first communication to reduce the back and forth.
Suggest Possible Times
Go through your calendar and suggest possible days and times that work for you. For instance, I do the following:
The following dates/times (EST) work for me:
Monday, 1/24: 11am – 12pm EST; 2pm – 3pm EST
Tuesday, 1/25: 2pm – 4pm EST
Friday, 1/28: 10am – 12pm EST; 2pm – 4pm EST
Some additional tips:
- The more time slots you suggest the better
- Make sure you specify your time zone (people will assume they are in your timezone)
- The busier the person is, the farther out your suggested time slots should be
Suggest Meeting Location or Phone Number
If it’s a phone call, I always say: “My number is 212-555-0001 but I”m happy to call you.” If you’re trying to set up a meeting with several people, you should get a free conference call number and include the dial-in information.
If it’s an in-person meeting, you should suggest going to their office (confirm their office address in the email) or picking two coffee shops or restaurants (if it’s a breakfast or lunch meeting) that are near their office.
If you do all of the following, not only will the meeting get quickly arranged but, by making it less frustrating for the person you are emailing, it also increases the chances of getting the meeting set up in the first place.
Update: Great comments over at hacker news including another reason to do this is that it suggests you respect your time. I know that sounds like a bad excuse but, unfortunately, appearances do matter.