8 ways to get meetings with people who are too busy to see you

Do you often get brushed off when requesting a meeting with a colleague or a client?

If asking “Can we get together to share ideas?” isn’t working, here are some tips on the best approaches to get a meeting with a busy person:

Don’t give up
This isn’t just a song by comeback queen Kate Bush. Tenacity is vital. If you think you haven’t got a chance of tying them down, you won’t have. If the other person can see how much the meeting means to you, they are more likely to give you their time. It’s a vicious circle with people with crammed diaries and calendars. Why are they busy? Because they’re greatly in demand. Why are they greatly in demand? Because they are so busy. But persistency can pay off so keep asking until you get what you want.

Man Trying to Speak on Three Different Phones at OnceNatural barriers
If you put the person you’re seeking on a pedestal, it’s natural that they are going to be harder to tie down. So keep a positive mind.

Get an introduction
Business coach Heather Townsend says this is crucial, usually via a referral. You could even name-drop.

Use social media to be introduced to them
Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter can be used to get closer to them. Ensure that you listen closely to their instructions, so you don’t upset them from the outset. Make it simple for the busy person to agree to your meeting.

Be precise and accommodating
This means telling your busy person exactly how much of their time you want. Be accommodating, putting decisions in their hands such as where and when to meet. Flatter your person’s ego without being sycophantic.

Be interesting
This means being attention-grabbing and doing your homework. If you can show you have made an effort for them, they can more easily reciprocate.

Take the direct route
Many old school journalists think this is the best policy. One sports journalist tried to track down a famous 1990s spin bowler. He wanted to ask him about a drinking spree that allegedly went into the early hours just before the last day of an Indian Test match took this direct route. He found out which hotel the spinner was staying in and got put straight through. The time difference with India meant that he had to phone at 3am to catch him first thing in the morning. The phone was put down on him by the mercurial slow bowler – but not before he got some juicy quote denials. Of course, nowadays such a scheme couldn’t be hatched without coming up against a raft of PR goalkeepers. But the same principle applies.

Offer something back
No, this doesn’t mean something as blatant as offering cash inducements. Silicon Valley guru Steve Blank employs a new filter when young up-and-coming business thrusters approach him for his time: “What can they do for me in return?” This is understandable. Blank gets hundreds of e-mails a day, many of them offering coffee in return for advice – a real no-no.

Posted by Ashleigh Sharp


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