Monday, May 15, 2006

Cooling Our Heels...While Boiling Inside!

I had a day that, I think, plays itself out over and over in business. I had several business meetings on a rainy Friday. Nothing new here, but what I did notice was a problem with those meetings that mounted over the course of the day.

People were late.

Let me break it down for you, so you understand what happened. The first meeting, a teleconference, was scheduled for 9:00 am. At 9 sharp, my phone rang. Perfect. Then it started to slide. The second meeting started 20 minutes late: one participant got trapped on the interstate behind an accident on a rain-slick road. He did contact both of us by email (he was sitting long enough that he got out his trusty Treo (yes, I'm still jealous) and tapped out an urgent missive. Next, a meeting right after lunch. I was to introduce a business owner to a banker for a possible referral relationship. I'd confirmed the meeting with them both a few days before and still, strangely, got a call from one of the participants 10 minutes before the scheduled start asking when and where the meeting was to be. He arrived 30 minutes late -- right after I sent the banker back to her office with my apologies. Then, a 3:00 meeting where the participant showed up 45 minutes late and rounding up the day with a call 90 minutes after the scheduled time.

Now, what was interesting was that none of these meetings were sales calls -- people feel quite free to "blow off" sales people (I think rude is rude, but there it is). They were opportunities for me to network and help other business owners make contact with other business owners.

We're getting really weird about time. More so, we're not getting the relationship between integrity and people's willingness to do business with us. You can't be on time for a meeting -- you won't be on time with my order or with a contact I give you.

Question is: who do you blow off?