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Phone meetings & online business

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Saturday February 16, 2008 )

I must be getting old. I’m increasingly saying “back in my day”. Anyhow, back in my day, when I was still wearing the tie and suit and when faxing was pretty darned cool and anyone with an email address commanded a 6 figure salary, we had these things called phone meetings that would actually occur at the time arranged.

If the appointment was scheduled for 9.00am; it happened at 9.00am. There were no medals or awards for this punctuality; it was just expected. Miss a phone appointment and you’d risk being labeled as unreliable; particularly if you didn’t let the other party know with at least an hour’s notice that you wouldn’t be able to make it.

Seems like basic etiquette to me. Has this changed recently? If so, why?

I avoid the phone these days wherever possible as I’m pretty tired of organizing meetings with folks and them thinking that being 10 minutes late is acceptable. I don’t care whether it’s a partner I’m trying to woo, or one who’s trying to woo me – it’s rude and simply not on.

Time is money
Time is life

.. and as I get older, the latter becomes more important to me. People aren’t just wasting my time when they do this, they waste my life. 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there – it all adds up. I think I’ve lost about 2 hours of my life in the last year to this sort of thing. It’s just not good enough I tell ya! :).

OK, so I’m going a little over the top; but it does seem we’re becoming an increasingly disposable oriented society; including basic business etiquette. I missed a phone meeting a couple of weeks back and I felt terrible about it and apologized profusely to the other party. It goes some way to showing respect for the other person’s time.

The other biggie with phone meetings is that one party may not take into account the different time zone of the other. You might be sitting back at 10 am in the morning thinking being 10 minutes late isn’t a big deal; but if the other party had to pull themselves out of bed at 4am in order to meet with you; it’s often a big deal to them and not a good way to kick off a business discussion :)

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