In 2011, I was given a piece of advice from a conference I attended that changed my business. The advice was to stop doing coffee. Coffee meetings. Any meetings to more exact that were just a get to know you or pick your brain type meeting. Since it came from a conference directly connected to networking, I really took that advice to heart. Why would they tell you to stop doing something that was a foundation of sorts for their business, right?
Her point was this. Most meetings for this purpose are unproductive, rarely lead to business, and take up major amounts of time from your schedule. You have to get ready, drive somewhere, allow time for traffic and such, the meeting itself, the drive home, and then getting settled back into your work day. It’s a lot! And it is not productive or necessary. Her advice was if someone asks for a meeting, first clarify what they are looking for. If it feels like something you may want to pursue, set up a phone call first. 10-15 minutes should do it. That’s enough time to know if there are sparks there. If that goes well and it feels like you may want to connect further, that’s the point you may set up a meeting.
I can’t tell you how many countless hours (not to mention gas money and food bills) I have spent in meetings that went nowhere. Many of them really were for gathering knowledge from me in areas I offer as a service in my business and many were to simply try to sell me something I could have told them in less than 30 seconds I wasn’t interested in. I was burned out and working 70-80 hours a week. Much of that time was spent in meetings that weren’t necessary. I was absolutely exhausted.
Time is something you can never get back. Remember that. If you want to be successful and happy in your life you must spend your time wisely doing things that honor you, honor your wisdom, honor your values. Focus on what’s really important to you and important in the moment. If something doesn’t apply to what you have going on today, say no. If someone wants to pump your brain for info, show them your services page. If someone wants to get to know you better, suggest a few emails exchanged or a quick phone call. Otherwise, say no.
I’ve recently gotten off track and scheduled some things that, while I enjoyed them, it would have been in my best interest to not do them. I like to watch movies and play cards and ride my bike but I can’t spend all day doing those either. I am self-employed. I am responsible for my life, for my business, for it’s success or failure…just me…I am the only one responsible and I have to do what works best for me.
And if you have any doubts about saying no…here’s a video from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. He’s got some wonderful points to reinforce this concept around the importance of saying no so you can stay focused and say yes when it really counts.
So to echo Derek’s words, take control of your calendar and start saying no. Set up a system that works for you and follow it. Create the life and the business you desire.