Are you looking for a polite way to turn down that request for a meeting you received recently? Rober Scoble (Rackspace’s Startup Liaison Officer, video blogger, media innovator) may have the perfect response to that request you received. Most business professionals (entrepreneurs, investors, partners, influencers, founders and business leaders) get requests for meetings on weekly basis. If you happen to get dozens of meeting requests, you may find this useful.
Robert shared these tips on Quora with users and I thought you or somebody you know will find it helpful.
1. Have a philosophy
Mine is contextual computing is going to be more and more interesting. So, if you aren’t contextual (mobile first) and using sensors, wearable computers, etc, then I will be less interested in you. This lets me say no in a nice way. “Sorry, I’m looking for a specific kind of interaction in 2014 and you don’t fit.”
2. Have a boss who makes you say no due to other interests.
Boss’s don’t need to be employers, either. My kids and wife are in charge of my life too and demand my time the same as others do. “My wife won’t let me fit that speech into our calendar, sorry.” Or, “my kids haven’t seen me for a month so I can’t make that dinner, sorry.” Works just as well as “my boss at Rackspace already signed me up for another speech that evening, sorry.”
3. Know what you want out of life.
I want to have more three-star Michelin-rated dinners. So, if you offer me one of those I’ll find it very hard to turn down. I also want to see the next big company when it’s just two entrepreneurs at a table. I find it hard to turn down a chance to see another company, particularly one that has an interesting new product coming out.
4. Try to be helpful in some other way.
“Hey, I can’t do that interview you wanted me to do because I’m already booked this week, how about I introduce you to some other journalists who can help?”
5. Suggest ways to get to success.
Those who are busy are very transactional. So, asking for coffee might get turned down, while asking to meet to pitch might not. Coffee implies some sort of squishy social agenda. “I don’t do coffee, but if you have a pitch please email me that.” Often they really just wanted to pitch you anyway and were trying to be nice by asking to buy you coffee.
6. If the person sounds interesting to at least meet, suggest meeting at an event
“hey, I’m about to head to CES in Vegas, will you be there or at SXSW in March?”
7. Be honestly busy.
My calendar is 100% filled for January now. I’m very happy to show you my Google Calendar, which demonstrates that well. So, saying “I’m booked until February and not booking new things” works.
8. Ask them to go through someone who has an easier time saying no.
For instance, I have a producer, Rocky Barbanica. He is far more willing to say no than I am. That said, if you convince him, it usually is because you actually have something great, so I’m more willing to put you on the calendar after you get through him.
9. Push them over to a social network.
I do that because I want to be scalable in everything I do (answering a question on Quora, for instance, helps out potentially thousands of people, while answering a question in email only helps one person out). So, saying “ask that question on Quora” is a good way to turn down people. Smart people use Facebook to see when I’m online, too (I’ll often chat with you there before answering my own email).