Meetings are a staple of modern life. There are social meetings, of course, and meetings for you to get to know someone new. But most meetings are linked to work in one way or the other. These fall roughly into three categories:
- You want to get something from the other person.
- They want to get something from you.
- You are working together to get something done.
I’m going to write (or rant) today about my recent annoying experiences with Category 2. I get quite a lot of requests these days to meet people who want my help with something, normally to do with expeditions, writing books, or the motivational speaking world. I try to help when I can, because lots of people have helped, and are helping, me.
But boy, oh boy, I have had my patience tested by a few of the people I have met recently. They clearly had not read this bit of Advice on Seeking Advice. Here then are my top tips about meeting etiquette:
- Don’t be late.
- Don’t be late.
- What are your objectives for the meeting? Think about these beforehand. Don’t just sit back and expect to have a monologue of golden, hard-earned information poured into your lap.
- Why did you ask the other person to take the time and trouble to meet you? Could it have just been done via phone or email?
- Do some research in advance. Don’t just treat the person you are meeting as a human version of Google. (On that point, don’t email people lists of questions that you could have just typed into Google. It’s annoying. And lazy.)
- Don’t be greedy. Asking for help, information, contacts is all part of the game. But don’t be so obvious in your attempts to hoover the other person dry.
- What can you offer in return? You may not be able to help the person you are meeting; they may not need or want any help. But at least try. Think who you know or what you know that you can give back. Try to make it a two-way thing.
- So I’ve given up my time to meet you, given you loads of information, and you’re not even going to pretend to make an effort to pay for the cups of tea? Shall I punch you in the face now or shall I just go home and write a grumpy blog post?
- Did I mention not arriving late? And if you are late don’t use the excuse “I’m so busy at the moment.” You’re on the verge of getting a Chinese Burn.
- Say thank you. Did your parents not teach you anything? Do you want the person to help you again in the future? The person you meet won’t expect fawning thanks and everlasting gratitude. A quick email to say thank you for their time and help is all that’s needed. Fail to do that and you deserve hunting down for a giant Wedgie.
What do you think? I am just old-fashioned, grumpy and over-sensitive? Leave a comment with your thoughts…