The Basic Etiquette Needed to Create and Cancel Meetings in the Digital Era

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By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)

Along with the advancements we have made in tech, believe it or not, come some responsibilities. Yes, we are all more accessible thanks to the mobile phone and the social Web but that does not mean you should be calling me in the middle of the day to pitch me about your startup, does it? Does it?! In fact, one can make the claim that because of all this new tech, privacy needs to be honored and respected even more than before.

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After a recent incident in which a friend set a meeting, then the day before the meeting rescheduled it (so far, so good), only to actually cancel the meeting 30 minutes before the time and date with no more than a calendar event change. No email, no call, and there I was, waiting for the dude in the restaurant. His phone was off, he was not responding to emails, and I was not a happy camper.

Now, yes, when he canceled the event in the calendar, I got an email, but by then, I was half out the door and didn’t really pay attention to the change, thinking it is common knowledge that if he needs to cancel now, at the last second, he would know to pick up the phone. I was wrong. Now, this guy I speak of, is a friend, a friend who reads my writing, so chances are he will see this and I am ok with that. Especially since he quickly realized he was wrong and apologized.

Then a friend posted this update on Facebook today, and it occurred to me, this kind of post may be in order. And here we are. So if you depend on your calendar for your day to day schedule and you are the type of person who sets a lot of meetings, please make sure to follow these very basic rules, that nine out of ten people will dismiss on the grounds that it is common sense. I have learned the hard way, it is not so common after all.

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Oh, and as I was writing this post, I did what I often do and asked for feedback from my Twitter followers. Some of the responses are embedded below.

  • Wait, you sure you need to meet for that?

While nothing beats face to face interaction, not everything requires a meeting. Before asking someone to meet, it might be worth considering a pre-meeting phone call. If that is really all you need, why waste your time and theirs?

  • Calendar Invite or it’s Not Happening

I hate to be the annoying guy who forces you to send me an official invite but honestly, send the invite or please be prepared for the person you are meeting to forget about the meeting. We are all busy and we all have phones in our pockets so why not take advantage of them? And if you don’t know how to send a calendar invite (Yes, really, trust me, I have met such people.), learn.

  • Now that you are sending an invite, how about creating it right?

As my friend wrote in his Facebook post, the subject of the invite should not be “Intro”, “Lunch”, or something else that says nothing to me when browsing my calendar. Make the subject informative. Additionally, if the event is a call, add the phone number to the event. If it’s a meeting, include the address. Any and all information needed for the event should be in the, wait for it, event.

  •  If you must cancel, do it sooner than later

Listen, I get it, sometimes, there are emergencies, and that is fine. That aside, if you have to cancel and your house is not on fire, then kindly do it enough time in advance so the person can plan their day and possibly week accordingly. And please, if you cancel an event, at the very least, email the person with an explanation. Canceling the calendar invite is NOT enough. If you really want to be a mensch, call the person and apologize. Remind me again, why I have to even say this?

  • Confirm the Meeting 

I admit, this one is up for debate, but I always email the person the morning of the meeting, especially if we set the meeting more than a few weeks prior, to confirm that we are indeed on for that day. In this email, I usually ask if there is parking, assuming we are meeting at that person’s office. If we are meeting in a place I chose, I will include any instructions about where the place is, how to get there, where to park, or anything else I think the person might want to know.

  • Seriously? You came HOW late?

Come on time. There, moving on.

As I read this post I just wrote, I am sure some people will think I am being anal. The thing is, there are not many things more frustrating than misunderstandings when it comes to meetings. Nothing more annoying than having your valuable time wasted because of a simple mistake in booking the meeting. So, when setting up a meeting, please do it in a way that respects the other person’s time. I know, common sense. You’d think.

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hilzfuld

Hillel is Co Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at ZCast, a company taking on the pain of modern audio broadcasting. Hillel also blogs for many influential sites including TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more. Hillel has been named Israel's top marketer, has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, and many others and was recently added by Google to its marketing experts program. You can find and talk to Hillel on Twitter. He is @Hilzfuld.