If you are like any other busy professional, you live and die by your calendar. You schedule every moment of your life and every aspect of your job. But, when your most difficult clients start to take over your calendar, it can get out of hand.
With a little bit of effort and a much-needed backbone, you can gain control over your calendar again and focus on the clients’ needs at the same time. Below, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council give their recommendations on how any business professional can stay in control of their calendar when scheduling time with clients.
1. Determine What Type Of Client Interaction You Seek
Determine upfront what type of interaction you are seeking with the client, what success looks like with the time being scheduled, what level of preparation/socialization is required to meet your goal, and how to mitigate potential risks that could derail your agenda. While you could block off time on your calendar, scheduling is not always so black and white. Flexibility is key. – Christie Lindor, The MECE Muse
2. Set Up Reminders
Not only do you have to add your client appointments to all calendars (phone, laptop and paper planner in sync), you need reminders. Have a reminder the day before, an hour before, and even 15 minutes before. Appreciate the “buzz” and the occasional “ding” to keep you productive, on time, and seen by your clients as punctual and professional. – Dr. Keita Joy Ductant, The Leader’s Life Coach
3. Keep Meetings Efficient And Goal-Oriented
Before each meeting, ask if the meeting is even needed. If the meeting is determined to be absolutely necessary, set no more than three clear goals at the beginning. Throughout the meeting, have one person responsible for guiding everyone back toward those goals if people veer off topic. At the end of the meeting, send out notes about the meeting that include action items and owners for each item. – Kyle Elliott, Kyle Elliott Consulting (CaffeinatedKyle.com)
4. Schedule In White Space
Whether it be by phone or in person, I block time right into my calendar before and after the client interaction for reflection. Right before the meeting, I take time to thoughtfully detail a “timed agenda” and visualize how I want the client to feel after the session. I block time after our interaction to create a written debrief with action steps and self-imposed deadlines. – Deborah Goldstein, DRIVEN Professionals
5. Charge A Reschedule Fee
Clients very often like to cancel at the last minute (or simply not show up for the meeting). I’ve implemented a rescheduling fee. This helps them stay committed to their original schedule, day and time. – Dawn Ali, Happy Rich Great Body
6. Set And Share A Written, Bulleted Agenda
Having five bullet points written down for a call, online or in person meeting, helps set the pace. I ask clients if they want to add to or move something off the agenda as I don’t want to be the boss of the conversation. But setting a clear agenda often creates its own time parameters or allows the client to see this is what needs to be accomplished within the hour. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
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