I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it — our most scarce and precious resource is our time. That’s true for me, you, everyone.
So the most effective way to garner some of someone else’s time is to truly show respect for it.
If there’s one aspect of my brand I am most protective and obsessive over, it’s that people expect me to respect their time in my actions and my recommendations. If I ask for any of your time, I want you to expect that I have a good reason and that will benefit both of us. If I recommend you talk to someone or attend an event, you expect it to be worth your time.
A good rule of thumb for creating this trust is to treat someone else’s time as if it is even more valuable and scarce than your own. That may seem obvious, but I mean really err on the side of assuming they don’t have time.
Instead of asking for a 60 minute in person meeting, ask for 20 minutes over the phone.
Instead of asking when they have time this week, ask their availability this month.
Small things that say, “I don’t want to add stress to your plate” are very much appreciated, and people will be more generous than you’d think.
And it goes without saying — don’t ask something of someone without it being worth their time! If something you expected to be valuable turns out to be a flop, apologize profusely for that misstep.
“Hey, sorry about [outcome]. I really thought that [other outcome] would happen. Didn’t mean to waste your time with that.”
If you’re throwing a hail mary, fishing for generosity or goodwill without offering much in return, take ownership over that.
“This is a long shot, and there is absolutely no expectation or obligation, but…”
If you don’t respect someone’s time, they may not offer it again.