How to get a meeting with a very busy person

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Reference: Steve Blank; Jim Sobeck

Busy people are generally busy because lots of other people want their time. If you want a share of that time you need to think carefully about how you approach them

If you’re just looking for some advice, someone to learn from and bounce ideas off – maybe you’re an entrepreneur, trying to take your business to the next level – don’t just ask them if you can pick their brains; offer them something in return. Not money or even a favour necessarily, but knowledge, information perhaps that might be of interest to them: new developments in your areas, for example; talk about what you know and what you’ve learned. They are more likely to choose to help someone for whom this is a two-way street.

If you’re in sales and struggling to get an appointment, make sure you have done your research: find out the name of the person you need to speak to (else you’ll get turned away by the gatekeepers) and ensure you understand their problem and how you are going to solve it. As with the ‘pick your brains’ scenario, they need to feel this meeting will benefit them as well as you.

Whether you’re selling something or just picking their brains, the easiest way to get an appointment with someone who is always very busy is to get a referral from a mutual contact that they trust and respect. However, with sales that isn’t always possible so here are a few tried and tested (and maybe a little crazy) ways to get that appointment:

Email to request an appointment: make it brief, well-written and attention- grabbing; talk about what’s going in their business and how you can help and/or make reference to your both being in the same location at a given time, which would make it easy to meet up.

Call early in the morning or late at night: busy people almost always get in before everyone else and leave afterwards, which means that you avoid the gatekeepers/PAs and you’ll probably impress them with your commitment at 6:30 in the morning! You could request an appointment for that sort of time too.

Send your letter in an oversized package: people almost always sign for and pass over interesting looking packages – they may contain a gift! You might get points from your prospect for ingenuity…or cheekiness and, hopefully, an appointment.

If you want a meeting with a very busy person, see it from their perspective first and then make yourself an attractive option, upon which they may bestow their precious 15 – 30 minutes.