This is a follow-up to my earlier post on Sending out Calendar Invites. Once you send out a calendar invite, it is very important to be early to meetings.
What does being early to meetings mean?
My colleague Tim Diep once told me that if you are on time to a meeting, it means that you are late. It hit me hard. It does make a lot of sense. You never know what comes up in your way when you plan on attending a meeting. You could be in your office and in the stairway you could end up meeting a colleague and have a chit chat with. If you were leaving your desk at 11:59 am for a 12:00 pm meeting in your office, you lose the opportunity to chit-chat with a person. If you will be driving off-site or taking an uber to attend, there could also be traffic along the way and these are things you do not control.
An important meeting when I was not on time:
In January of this year, I was on a business trip to Greenwood, Mississippi to meet an important and large prospective client. Since there were no non stop flights from Los Angeles to Greenwood(MS), I took the Delta flight from Los Angeles to Memphis, TN and from there on decided to drive to Greenwood, MS.It was a two hour drive. Since the flight landed at 12:00 am midnight and I did not want to drive for two hours, I decided to sleep in a hotel mid-way. I also got a free rental upgrade to an AUDI, It was exciting (who does not love free stuff?)
Checking your calendar:
The next morning I got up early and had a lot of time. Had a good breakfast in the hotel and started driving to Greenwood, MS. It was an hour drive from the hotel. I had assumed that the meeting was at 10:30 am and started from the hotel at 9:15 am. However the meeting was at 10:00 am local time and I ended up being 15 minutes late to the meeting. On my drive since I was running late, I wanted to call the client and let them know I was running late. However there was no signal and I could not call / send text messages or emails to the client. I felt really bad and had I checked my calendar the previous night before hitting the bed, it would have all been fine. We did end up winning the deal, however it was a lesson learnt. It does not make you look good.
Virtual Meetings (Dialing in a few minutes early):
It is equally important to be on time to virtual meetings. It is a great practice to dial in a few minutes early and you might also have like minded people who dial in early. You will get to have a casual conversation with them. This also helps in relationship building.
We have seen in multiple instances where people accept the meeting and do not join. When you accept a meeting, it means you will be joining the meeting. If you accept and are not able to attend the meeting it is a good practice to decline the meeting. If you are not able to attend the meeting, decline it. Calendars also provide you options to choose Maybe. If someone sends you an invite, it is not a good practice to neither accept/decline or choose maybe. It is recommended that you choose one of the options.
If you have back to back meetings and you had a long day and end up missing something not so important it is okay. You know what is best and important for your schedule. This will also help you plan your schedule and meetings appropriately. Being on time to meetings, dialing in a few minutes early (when you do not have back to back) for a call etc. could sound trivial. However it is small things and attention to detail that makes you stand apart from the rest and makes a big difference. If you do not do this, you will be left behind. It is competitive today and in a way all these are basics.