“Hey, I know we agreed to meet at 6 PM tonight, but I had something come up—could you do next Thursday?”
A prized networking contact was rescheduling our coffee meeting —for the fourth time. To say I’d had enough was an understatement. In fact, I was ready to call it quits with this person.
But in my experience, managing this situation is easier said than done—especially if you’ve been going back and forth for a few weeks. It can be especially tricky if you think the person is important for your career and you still really would like to meet up.
I’ve dealt with my fair share of “networking flip-floppers” over the years. In addition to becoming skilled in dealing with frustration ( deep breath in ), I’ve also learned how to handle the people themselves.
1. Don’t Rearrange Your Schedule
Read my lips: No one is worth completely upending your calendar for. I’ve seen situations where people rescheduled several other appointments just to fit in a meeting with the flip-flopper—only to have him or her change the day and time once again.
Unless you’re meeting with your ultimate career idol, there’s no need to move other appointments or meetings to fit someone else in. Since he or she isn’t making your time a priority, you shouldn’t be expected to put that person at the top of your list, either.
2. Don’t Be Passive-Aggressive
It’s tempting to add a little sass when someone isn’t being respectful of your time. Sure, of course we can reschedule for the seventh time.
However, as in many other career situations, being passive-aggressive can come back to bite you. The old saying goes that you should treat others the way you want to be treated, and while you most likely wouldn’t be rude enough to constantly reschedule a meeting, you’d like people to be understanding if you did. Not to mention that being rude makes it less likely than ever that this meetup will happen. Even if you think it could be read as a joke, you don’t want to take the risk.
On that note, if you find your blood boiling when receiving yet another “can we reschedule pls?” email, step away from your inbox for at least a couple of minutes. You don’t want to send anything you’ll regret later.
3. Offer the Person an Out
Whether the person’s intentionally trying to dodge you, really disorganized, or truly busy—after a certain point—sometimes it’s better to give the other person a pass on the meeting until a later date (or even indefinitely) than it is to spend your time going back and forth.
I gave an “out” to the person I mentioned earlier, as it seemed like we were never going to meet up for coffee that month anyway. Here’s the email I sent:
No problem! Since we both seem to be pretty busy right now, why don’t we try getting together next month when both of our schedules are a little less nuts? Send me an email when you’re ready to meet up. Good luck with the huge marketing campaign! I’m sure it’ll be great.
If you emailed first, offer to be the one to follow up and ask when would be best for you to reach back out. Either way, this strategy puts the onus on the other person to either follow up with you or let you know when you can contact him or her for a definite answer.
Unless you’re meeting up with Beyoncé (in which case, can I have her number?), there’s no need to wait (and wait, and wait) on anyone. There are plenty of other fish in the networking sea—so focus on those who will actually value your time.