9 ways to get into the diary of busy people

by Heather Townsend on March 28, 2012 · 2 comments

Over the last year, I have definitely become what are known in the trade as a ‘busy person’. White spaces in my diary have become a bit of a rarity… This has prompted me, based on my own experiences, to write an article helping you get into the diary of a busy person.

I think that the first thing to acknowledge is that don’t get upset if you get turned down, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Such is the way with things in life.

1. Get an introduction

This is absolutely crucial. Your credibility, and likelihood of success, rises by exactly who has introduced you. This was how, today, I managed to get into the diary (without a pre-agreed appointment time) of the head of global business development for a large global engineering consultancy.  A very close friend and contact of the both of us had made the connection. Personally, I know that if my business partner Jon, or someone very close to me suggests I need to meet someone, I will get Lisa my Chief Organiser straight onto the old blower to make an appointment.

2. Think about their agenda

I remember a time when I received in one evening, such a compelling reason to call a new connection, I phoned him at 09:00 the next day, and spent half a day with him that week. Why was this request successful when many other requests to get in my diary are not? Basically, he spoke my language and set up the benefits for me personally in meeting. Not the benefits to him, but the benefits to me of meeting up. I’ve found that most people will change around their diary to talk to me if they believe that they will gain high quality exposure to their target market, e.g. a quote in one of my books. Typically when we want to get into a busy person’s diary we only normally think of our own agenda. What’s their agenda? Can you influence this positively by meeting with them?

3. Follow their instructions!

This is such a simple one, but so often ignored. I tell people, the way to get in my diary is to speak to my Chief Organiser, Lisa. Lisa controls my diary and boy, does she control it. (I get in trouble if I put meetings in there myself….) Most busy people have someone like Lisa in their life. If they say talk with their equivalent of Lisa, then do it. Trying to circumvent the system, as someone found out with me recently, just tends to irritate and get your request to the bottom of the heap.

4. Be credible

I found out that one of my clients had succeeded in securing not just one, but two meetings with someone who is very selective about whom he meets. The reason my client made it through the door was very simply he was very credible and had a great reputation for what he does. And yes, yours truly, gave him an introduction to this person truly. If people are not taking your call, take a long hard look at yourself in a mirror. Have you built a reputation that attracts people to you? Or are their question marks about your competence or reputation?

5. Get to know them through social media first

It’s not unusual to get access to busy people via social media. If you have taken the time to tweet with them and build up a relationship first, it’s very often a simple step to suggest a conversation over coffee. You will be surprised exactly how little gatekeeping goes on via social media. However, then don’t spoil all the hard work that you have done, by then not listening to their instructions on how to get time in the diary.

6. Be clear about how much time you want

When I have been interviewing those ‘hard to get hold of people’ for my book or articles, I always find that asking for a set amount of time for a meeting helps. The shorter the time, the easier it is to say yes. I clearly remember being granted 30 minutes of Ivan Misner’s time when interviewing him for ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking’. Gold dust, particularly as the interview then went on for an hour.

7. Make it easy for the other person to say yes

I remember being completely bowled over by one of my network travelling all the way from Devon to London, just to meet me. It made my day, week and year. In fact this person is an absolute expert at getting in my diary because he makes it so easy for me to say yes to a request to a meeting. So, what’s his secret? He moves his diary to fit mine… If I only have one hour free in a day, he’ll make damn sure that he will move heaven and earth, and if necessary travel halfway across the country, to meet me at a place of my choosing.

8. Be-friend the gatekeeper

As I have already mentioned, most busy people have a gatekeeper managing their diary for them. (If you are reading this Lisa, you do an excellent job at managing mine.) Another one of my network is great at getting in my diary, because she has befriended my gatekeeper and miracle worker, Lisa. The more you help the gatekeeper to do their job, and get back to them promptly, the stronger the likelihood that you will get prioritised in the diary. Trust me on this one!

9. Appeal to their ego

This one doesn’t always work, but flattering people often does help to oil the way to getting into their diary. I (and don’t tell anyone who said this) am a sucker for anyone who compliments me on my book, tweets or blog. It just makes it easier for me to say yes to a meeting.

 What else has worked for you to get into a busy person’s diary?


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Brown June 28, 2012 at 09:01

Great post, Heather, and so relevant both to help us engage with the busy ‘demi gods’ and for screening our own diaries so we meet with the right people at the right time!


Heather Townsend June 28, 2012 at 16:38

Thanks Rob. I re-read this article and realised that I used points 2, 5 and 9 to help me secure a foreword for my next book from one of the real gurus.


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