For a few weeks, I had been trying to meet up with the editor of another publication, who had been introduced to me by a mutual friend.
Not surprisingly, scheduling some time to get together wasn’t going very well. Both of us were booked several weeks in advance, a lunch meeting we did plan got foiled by an impromptu meeting with her executive team, and neither of our calendars was bound to free up anytime soon.
Then, she had a great idea: “Why don’t you swing by the office on a Thursday around 5? We have office happy hour then. We can chat, and I can introduce you to a few members of the team.”
It worked perfectly: I got 20 minutes of her time, she didn’t have to add anything else onto her calendar, and I got to meet a few more interesting people.
It also sparked an idea: Why not find ways to combine even more things on my calendar?
For instance, I often have students or recent grads asking to pick my brain about how to break into the editorial or startup world. Why not ask them to swing by my office for a quick, 20-minute informational interview in between meetings? They’d not only get to chat with me, but they’d also get a peek inside the inner workings of my company.
Or, for new contacts, instead of squeezing coffee or lunch on the calendar, why not invite them to interesting events or conferences I’m already attending? I even have a friend who, instead of scheduling meals with contacts, often invites them to join her for a walk, run, or spin class. Networking and working out all in one hour? Amazing!
I know: It might feel a little awkward, and for important meetings or contacts, you probably don’t want to take the two-in-one approach. But if you’re genuine and nice about it (think: “I’d love to have coffee, but my schedule is jam-packed for the next few weeks. That said, I’m attending a panel on women in media next week that looks really interesting. Would you like to join me?”), most people will understand. And probably even be excited that something’s finally on the calendar.
Networking takes time—and we all know there’s not an abundance of that to go around. But by being strategic about your schedule, you might find a few extra hours in the week.