Improve Your Job Performance: Get A Hobby

By: Kara Hutcheson

Hey. Kara, here. I keep things running smooth and on time, here, at WorkBook6. Spend just a few minutes with some of the folks on our team and you’ll know that job is easier said than done. By design, this business is a buzzing hive of activity. Our team is dynamic, and often very, very busy. It’s my job to help them keep it all straight and to help us all maintain sanity. Playing an insider’s role in each of the team’s day to day has given me a unique perspective around how to maintain such an intense workload while staying happy and healthy. And while every person here is different, they all have a commonality – they’ve got something else they’re passionate about. For many on the team, music is the go-to. Brett and Sav are both obsessed with electronic dance music (EDM). Kyle’s a DJ and Max plays guitar. Others aren’t quite so indoorsy – Anna can be found on a horse at least one afternoon or evening each week and Chris is a free-diver and avid surfer. JT is flat-out obsessed with fishing, yardwork, and anything else outside. Justin hits the gym (and he never skips leg day). My hobby is in all things film, in particular screenwriting, at least for the moment. The point is this – every one of us has a counterbalance to help put the hours in the office and on the road into better perspective. And I’m convinced that this might be what enables us all to go so hard at work!

While it may seem contradictory, investing more time in your personal life and interests outside of work can help you improve your job performance. Despite the traditional idea that ‘workaholic’ behavior drives success, the ability to thrive in today’s business world requires more than just showing up to work. Investing some time in hobbies helps develop your skills in a rounded way making you even more productive (and marketable) than you are now.

Get the Creative Juices Flowing

For many of us, our job roles and functions are straightforward. Typically our day-to-day activities in the office are often predictable – which is in not necessarily a bad thing! It would however, be a terrible thing to assume that because we do one thing well, it’s the only thing we do well. Having hobbies furthers our understanding of our creative capabilities. Putting ourselves in unfamiliar situations lets us tap into our creativity in a different way than we usually would.  This can spark inspiration to get us past ‘just showing up’ to work, and rather pushing hard for progress and innovation.

Playground for Failure

Personally, my favorite reason to participate in a hobby is the opportunity to make mistakes without any really scary consequences. When was the last time you spent time doing something for yourself where you hadn’t considered the return on investment? Are you willing to be challenged and work at something, even if it doesn’t produce a paycheck? I challenge you to find any successful person who can truthfully say that their success came overnight, without much work and without any failures. If you walk into a photography studio, you’re likely not going to be Ansel Adams on your first day. Take a boxing class, you’re probably not ready to get into the ring with Mayweather any time soon. Sitting down to write? Ask Tolkien, Rowling or Martin about failure before their masterpieces became our current obsessions! Giving ourselves a creative space to be daring without the fear of getting fired or endangering our livelihood can give us the confidence to unravel some of our underlying talents. While taking chances may be a little daunting at the office when there is much at stake, the journey in our personal interests have a way of taking us on a much more adventurous path.

When it rains, it doesn’t have to pour

Have you ever had one of those days at work where everything went wrong? You come home, only to continue thinking about work. You wake up the next day, only to dread going in to work to deal with yesterday’s fallout. Having a hobby can help take us, even if just momentarily, out of a bad situation, refresh our perspective and force a little joy into our lives even on the worst days. I guarantee your ability to solve problems when you are refreshed and optimistic is far better than when you are in a stressed and overwhelmed state.

The beautiful thing about a hobby is it can be anything. It doesn’t have to be something you are naturally talented at, or it could be your secret passion that opens up brand new career doors. It’s an opportunity for extroverts to observe, or for introverts to take the lead. If you ever doubted whether investing time in a hobby is worth the effort, remember – if the return of growth, accomplishment and happiness doesn’t quite get you there, a new hobby may be just the tool you need to take you to the next level at work!



996 workweek

By: Max Richardson

What does a productive week at the office look like for you? If you work in the software industry in China, there’s a good chance that your job feels a little like a 19th century steel worker, minus the smelting.   Over the past few weeks, a movement has gained momentum on Github among Chinese developers at more than 40 tech giants called the 996.ICU – a reference to the 9am-9pm workday, six days a week – and the place you end up afterwards, the Intensive Care Unit.

For non-developers, Github is a centralized development platform that is used by nearly every development team to consolidate files in one location and track changes in code. So why protest on Github? For starters, China’s heavy-handed internet policy and media restrictions prohibits more typical forms of protest. Ultimately, tech workers in China decided to take a different strategy: create a license that prohibits use by companies not adhering to labor laws. While this won’t keep companies from enforcing the 996 policy, by releasing software under this license, those same companies would be unable to benefit from the use of open-source development tools created under the license.

While working at a computer doesn’t compare to the factories of the industrial age, ­­­it comes with its own set of issues. In the Chinese tech sector, unpaid hours are both common and expected, and for those who want to move up the corporate ladder, the 996 work culture is a bare minimum. While companies frequently offer amenities such as sleep rooms, showers, and food to entice their employees to stay in the office, the corporate culture is decidedly work-first and many employees face internal shaming for leaving work before their superiors.

The big question is whether any more work actually gets done. Being at the office doesn’t mean you’re being efficient. In 2018, Inc. Magazine reported that the average 8-hour worker is only productive for around three hours a day! We all know the feeling of hitting the wall at the end of a day, when everything feels harder and your mind moves slower. Now add another 4 hours to your day – do you get more done? Probably not much.

Personally, I find myself most productive from 11am to 3pm, with 10 minute breaks ever 90 minutes or so for a walk. That downtime helps me digest and retain the information I’m taking in and gives my mind the break it needs for behind-the-scenes problem solving and maximizes creative thinking.

What’s your routine for a productive day? How much of your work day do you actually spend productively working? How many hours a week is your sweet spot for work/life balance?

Business Travel Exercise Hack

By: Justin Guido

Exercise plays huge role in work productivity. When you’re in a consistent routine, you can optimize your natural energy, creativity and focus. As we grow more and more busy, many people tend to overlook (or forget) how these benefits translate to your professional life, especially when we’re on the road. In my view, there’s clearly a domino effect in play…

Let’s start with natural energy, a vital component of a productive work life. Despite the fact that it ‘costs’ us energy, regular exercise increases energy levels and reduces feelings of fatigue. Natural and sustained energy… Isn’t that what all of us really want? It changes the game when applied to work. It’s very hard to stay motivated and productive in your job when your energy is depleted. And, travel makes it all the more difficult.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about replacing external energy sources with internal ones. For example, I’m trying to let exercise replace caffeine. (With more natural energy, you have less dependence on caffeine and other stimulants, which provide a “quick fix” followed by an eventual crash.) This is often the daytime vise of choice for steady work travelers. And, when we lessen our dependence on it, the research says we’ll experience better sleep and sleep quality. Do you see a pattern here? Double whammy!

Getting quality sleep is crucial to brain health/function, memory and concentration – this factors into our success on the road. By exercising, you’re changing the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. Researchers have found that regular aerobic exercise boosts the size of the hippocampus (the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning). Other direct benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

If that weren’t enough, how about simply feeling happier? Exercise fights depression, anxiety and stress (all mood traits that are maximized by travel). It helps our body produce more endorphins – which helps us be more creative and less distracted with external factors and challenges in our lives.

While it may be more challenging for some than others, if you can take a planned and conscientious approach to exercise in your regular routine, even when you’re on the road, you’ll experience more natural energy, creativity and focus… and your work life will thank you!

Day of Giving

By Max Richardson

For many of us, the holidays are the time of year when we do our best to think of others. We give greetings and thanks (…and gifts) to our loved ones and donate goods or volunteer for the less fortunate. In a week that is filled with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are now “Giving Tuesday” and “Wise Giving Wednesday”, two events that encourage giving back instead of commercialization and consumerism.

Giving Tuesday, an event created by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, and Wise Giving Wednesday, created by the Better Business Bureau aim to help donors select responsible charities and get more out of their giving. As these events have gained steam, so has support from companies in the form of donation matching, making your donation go a little further.While Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 and Wise Giving Wednesday in 2001, this is the first year I’ve heard about them (along with most of the people I informally polled).

After doing some research, I learned that there are over 1.2 million 501(c)(3) organizations in the USA. When I learned that, I realized that how much you give and how you give back is only one part of the equation. While choosing a cause is fairly straightforward, the harder question is which charity to pick to get the most from your donation.

Fortunately, there are a few charity navigation websites that aim to make that choice easier. Here are a few I recommend when choosing where to give:

Additionally, Consumer Reports lists the following tips for giving to charities:

• Verify tax-exempt status. If you’re not sure whether donations to a particular charity are tax-deductible (don’t assume they are), confirm a group’s status by checking with the group or by going to the IRS website.

• Give directly. If you’re contacted by a professional fundraiser for a charity you want to support, hang up and give directly instead. “The fundraiser might be keeping 75 to 90 percent of the money,” says Daniel Borochoff of CharityWatch. Sometimes, he says, charities may end up paying fundraisers more than they take in, leaving the group with a loss.

• Request privacy. If you don’t want to be bothered by endless fundraising appeals, tell groups you support that you don’t want your name and contact information sold, exchanged, or rented to other groups or for-profit companies, a common practice among some charities. You also can ask the groups not to send you further appeal letters, email, or phone solicitations. Check the charity’s privacy policy before giving.

• Be on guard for sound-alikes. Some low-rated charities have names that resemble those of high-rated ones. For example, there’s the low-rated American Breast Cancer Foundation of Columbia, Md., and the high-rated Breast Cancer Research Foundation of New York, N.Y. “In some cases, sound-alike charities are there with the intent to deceive donors into thinking they are donating to somebody else,” says Bennett Weiner of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. In other instances, groups have similar names because they’re focusing on the same causes.

Did you take part in Giving Tuesday or Wise Giving Wednesday? If you missed out, there’s still time to get the most out of your donations this holiday season. Use a charity watchdog to help guide your choice in a charity and contact them about donation matching campaigns that may be coming up. And, like us, you can pencil in the date next year!

Happy Giving,
Max

Happy Veteran’s Day!

For those who don’t know me, I’m Justin Guido – I joined this awesome team in June and my role has been to develop relationships with strategic partners for our clients. Specifically, I focus on organizations serving a certain membership audience – entities which are truly looking out for the interests of the group, above everything else. Under this umbrella, I mainly focus on military & veteran organizations. I like working this category for a few reasons. These organizations not only protect veteran entitlements on Capitol Hill, but also provide practical, everyday benefits (which can include significant discounts on every day products and services, as well as programs built around major initiatives like the VA Mortgage program or the GI Bill). WorkBook6 actively works to help our clients serve these communities; I can’t think of a group I’d rather support.

I know from my own experience that it feels good to align our clients’ success with real and direct benefits for the military community. So, I thought it might make sense to share a bit about how corporate partnerships can help the military community. 

How can for-profit organizations support and engage with, the Military community?

First of all, they need to keep in mind–this is a very large and diverse group of people. They come from all corners of the country with varied backgrounds and life experiences.

There are approximately 22 million US veterans and active military members, combined. It’s unrealistic to assume they all think the same way or have the same needs. Universally though, they all need and deserve our help.

There’s a big difference between wanting military customers, and actually being committed to achieving this. There are several ways companies can provide support (while creating brand awareness and loyalty) and they each involve dedicating meaningful resources to benefitting this community. This may come in the form of donations, sponsorships or other monetary contributions. Maybe that ties into special initiatives or corporate-sponsored programs (with supporting web content) that highlight a particular military need or cause. Or, support could simply come through hiring; rolling out a dedicated effort to hire veterans making the transition to civilian life.

One thing to keep in mind throughout the process—you’ve got to be patient. These types of relationships and partnerships don’t come easy or quickly. Patience pays off, though. Once you’ve established credibility and have shown your company’s willingness to support this community, you’ll never find a better or more loyal customer base.

Real examples

I thought it might be helpful to provide a few examples of WorkBook6 clients supporting this community:

  1. NBKC Bank- NBKC has extremely strong ties to the military community.  They are the key sponsor for the TV Show Military Makeover and they have a history of giving back to the Military Community. They’re also one of the nation’s top VA lenders and have specifically built loan products to help veterans take advantage of their VA Loan Benefits.
  1. PureTalk USA- A proud veteran-owned cell phone/wireless provider that’s always very eager to support the military community. They offer exclusive discounts to military group members, collaborate on co-branded military group landing pages and contribute “match” donations made to the group.
  1. Seniorly- Open search platform for senior housing options. Seniorly has recently produced a free Veterans Benefit Guide for Senior Living. This in-depth and comprehensive guide provides information to veterans on the types of available programs, aid and assistance, eligibility and application requirements to assist in securing the best senior housing options on the market.

WorkBook6 is focused on scaling current military partnerships and always eager to create new ones.

If you’re a company interested in supporting this community in some way (maybe you’re not sure how, just yet), we want to hear from you!

If you’re a military group or organization and could benefit from corporate support, we want to hear from you!

And finally, if you’re neither but you know of a company or group we should be working with….WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

HAPPY VETERANS DAY!!

Strategic Partnership Workshop – Full Speaker Announcement!

With InsureTech Connect now just a couple short weeks away, it feels timely to share more details on what we’re planning with our Strategic Partnership Workshop. At this point, our schedule and agenda are finalized, and I’m very happy with where we’ve landed. Attendees will hear from a talented and diverse group of thought leaders whose businesses touch the insurtech ecosystem in a variety of interesting ways. You can access the full agenda, here, but I’ve written a bit about each of our sessions, below:

We’ll begin with a discussion about growing profitably with a disruptive model – this discussion will feature senior executives from two insurance marketplace businesses: Abby Reddy from Quotacy and Marc Buro from InsuraMatch (part of the Plymouth Rock Assurance Company). I expect this session to be wonderfully informative for anyone working to solve for consumer choice and reduce friction in their customer acquisition funnel.

Next, we’re going to focus on insurance-adjacency and the potential this holds for improving customer acquisition, retention, and profitability. Daniel Weaver from Updater’s insurance division will speak to the ways insurance marketers can leverage high value audiences with a stated need for coverage. Chad Lovell from Cross Country Home Services (and formerly an executive with Liberty Mutual) will share important insights on the adjacency of home services to home insurance – and how a data and technology driven partnership within the connected home space can reduce claims and mitigate losses.

Because we believe that partnerships are central to the creation of enterprise value, it seemed logical to focus content on this. So our third and fourth sessions will do just that.

We’ll begin the perspective of founders whose partnership successes ultimately led to their acquisition. Brian Ocheltree from LeadCloud (acquired this year by National General Insurance) and Hal Schwartz from Quilt (also acquired this year by Mass Mutual) will help us all better understand the path to acquisition for a partnership-minded insurtech business. This will be a fantastic session for anyone leading or contributing to a startup, or folks who want to better partner with innovative new businesses.

Finally, we’ll look at partnership within this space from the investor’s perspective. This session – our last of the day, is designed to help us all better understand how capital views businesses which go to market through partnership. We’ll have two very unique perspectives to learn from: Grace Vandecruze, whose firm advises large insurance enterprises with regard to mergers and acquisitions, and Ashish Dudani, who runs an early-stage fund which invests in new insurance ventures.

But wait, there’s more! (I’ve been hoping to say/write this for a while – thanks for indulging me.) We’re delighted to welcome members of Gamma Iota Sigma, the nation’s largest fraternal organization serving students who plan to enter the insurance industry. These students are all part of a scholarship program announced earlier this year. We’ll even get to hear from the organization’s CEO, Noelle Codispot.

Seriously, folks, we’ve been working hard to bring forward a great agenda. As you can see, there’s a lot of content planned – and we’re going to deliver it all within a four-hour window. As a refresher, below are the details on this event:

Monday, October 1
1:00 – 5:00 PM
MGM Grand Rooms 203 and 204

If you haven’t yet registered for InsureTech Connect, you can do that, here.

If you have, but haven’t planned out the pre-day activities, I’d love for you to join us!

See you in Vegas! 

Breaking Through (Part One): My (humbling-as-heck) lesson about inbound sales communication

Recently, I posted a joke about a trend I’d been seeing a lot on LinkedIn and in my email inbox. I wrote:

“Pro tip: if you’re hoping I’ll reply to your cold outreach email or linkedin message, maybe don’t start your message with ‘Dear Benton’”

Almost immediately, things got weird. Typically, a post like this might get a few likes, and a few hundred views. I didn’t use a hashtag, nor did I tag anyone. In other words, I wasn’t trying to get a bunch of views or create some sort of viral thing. I was just feeling sarcastic after receiving a bunch of impersonal, (I felt) poorly written sales pitches. Most of these came through LinkedIn, but plenty have guessed my email address and hit my inbox. Bad form, I thought. I’d had enough. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

That post, to date, has received over 15,000 views and has dozens of comments. Many responses were sympathetic – others who felt like these were mass-communicated, spaghetti-on-the-wall spam tactics. But a few folks pushed back, citing cultural differences and pointing out that my snark might be misguided. Others questioned my logic. “So what if it’s a mass communication, or a poorly written note? Aren’t you still limiting yourself from opportunity by not responding?” (I’m paraphrasing).

Whoa. This is some provocative stuff – these folks make some pretty good points. Many of us work in industries that are fairly agnostic to borders – is my bias toward a certain style, format or salutation actually holding me back? Am I being so snooty that I’m missing out on good opportunities? Worse yet, could this be an unintentional form of discrimination? I decided that I need to think more seriously about this.

I take this kind of thing personally. Introspection isn’t always easy. I hate discrimination and I despise unfairly biased thinking. I absolutely shudder to think I might be guilty of either. From a purely business perspective, if we’re missing opportunities for any reason, I had better get to the bottom it. I decided to conduct a little experiment.

I chose two messages that I wouldn’t normally entertain. Instead of ignoring them, I wrote a thoughtful response to each. The first was an inbound email, the seventh in a series of uninvited communications from an overseas firm looking to sell us on their services. The second was a LinkedIn message from a firm that builds explainer videos (the example they sent was about stem cells!). In each case I responded, saying that I typically don’t reply to such communications, but that I’d be happy to learn more. To the overseas firm, I offered a 15-minute call to learn about their product. To the LinkedIn message, I wrote that I’d received dozens of similar communications, and that I’d be interested in knowing what sets the sender’s firm apart, and also how they think they could help us. Here goes nothing, I thought. The results confirmed my hunch that I can and should do a better job of exploring inbound opportunities. Much, much better.

The overseas firm blew me away. No joke. The 15 minute call went 45 minutes. Then, I asked my partner to review it – he called it a ‘no brainer.’ He’s right – it’s got the potential to help our team in a number of ways. While I still maintain that they approached me in the wrong way, we’re definitely going to buy their product.

The firm that builds explainer videos fared worse. I got a canned message back with a list of giant enterprise examples (that have no reasonable connection to who we are or what we do). The sender suggested I talk to someone else in her organization if I was interested. Not impressed.

There’s a lot to learn, here. First off, I’m clearly guilty of not thinking deeply enough. I valued form over function – mostly due to being busy. Maybe that sounds like a tough pill to swallow, but I’m happy to have learned my lesson. We’re better for this humbling experience.

But what about the senders? Wouldn’t they benefit from some tweaking to improve their own efforts? I think so. This problem won’t be solved by expecting folks to look in the mirror and become more open to inbound sales pitches (though as I’ve experienced, we all should). There’s always room to improve, and for any business development or sales professional looking to break through the noise, there are better ways to get the prospect’s attention.

I’m going to tackle this topic in part 2, next week. Stay tuned!

Hold Music | WorkBook6

Hold Please: The Joy of Perfect Hold Music

By JT Benton

One time, my sophomore year in college, I got to be a sit-in DJ for our school radio station. (My buddy couldn’t make it in – I’m sure I was his last choice.) Later, I became a slightly more frequent contributor on air (we were required to produce a few news pieces for campus radio and television as part of my major).

I always loved it. I could talk about whatever I wanted. And I could play music I liked and also take requests. One time, on a Sunday afternoon shift, I did a call-in giveaway for a local restaurant that received exactly zero responses until a call came in from a local correctional facility. I later hand delivered the inmate’s prize – a gift certificate – to the Putnam County jail. True story.

Somewhere, Brett Kaufman is screaming “get to the point!”

Hold music.

This relates to hold music. More specifically, ours at WorkBook6, and the fun little cultural thing it’s become in our business. Every month, we all propose ideas for which song will greet visitors to our company conference lines. In May, *NSYNC’s It’s Gonna Be Me (the one where Justin Timberlake pronounces “Me” as “m-a-a-a-a-a-y”) was the winner. June? School’s out for Summer by local boy Alice Cooper. This month it’s Walk of Life by Dire Straits.

This was never meant to be a thing. We just didn’t like the standard-sounding hold music our service uses, so I asked if we could upload our own, and it just sort of took off from there.

It’s become a social/culture attribute for us. We banter about it on Slack – most of the suggestions are out-of-this-world inappropriate or hysterical. But we always end up picking something together.

Another funny thing has happened.

People comment on it. And they show up early for calls. Our call provider, Uberconference, sends the host a text message when someone joins; I often get these five minutes BEFORE the call is scheduled to begin. This was also not by design – we were just being silly – but we’ll take it.

So if we can all agree that the best part of a conference call is the hold music, what are you favorite songs to listen to while you wait?

Building Consensus | WorkBook6

What to do when the answer is yes

By JT Benton

“I want to do this. But my partner isn’t sold. We’re prepared to move forward, but I wanted you to know that.”

A prospective client said this to Anna Lewis and I recently.

If you sell anything with a big price tag or a long-term commitment attached, you’ve probably heard something like this before. You’ve got a sponsor who is willing to put his or her neck on the line for you, but there’s a short leash and there’s already someone pulling on it.

You’ve got two choices

  1. Take the deal. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If you don’t believe in your own product enough to prove the doubters wrong, what good are you anyway, right?
  2. Work to perfect the deal. Win the doubter(s) over. Sell past the yes, and risk losing it all. Do this, and you have to be crazy enough to accept the consequences.

So, what should you do?

We asked this exact question on Twitter, in the form of a poll. The majority of respondents – 67% in fact – said they’d take option 1.

Building Consensus, and Getting to Yes | WorkBook6

Listen, there’s no ‘right’ response here – context is important and every scenario is different. If you sign it, as is, you do so with an immediate adversary on the other side – and a chip on your shoulder to do great work. Maybe that’s just what you need. If you hold off and work to perfect the deal, you’re risking the loss of good revenue. You might also be avoiding a potential problem, later on.

How you think about this might ultimately be colored by your own role in your company. For example, if you’re a salesperson, and you don’t involve yourself with client service after the ink dries, you might not worry about the mess that might follow. But if you’re responsible for both sales and service, you might think twice about it. And if you run customer success for your company, you’d likely want to take a more conservative approach.

Here’s what we did

We’ve seen this a few times, and we’ve navigated things differently each time. Our decision, this time, might surprise you. We paused – and then we ultimately walked away from a big, long-term agreement.

Here’s why.

WorkBook6 serves as an extension of our clients’ business development, marketing and senior management teams. These folks keep the lights on around here, so we go to the mat for them. But when it comes to inking our own engagements, we’re not as hard-charging as you might think.

When I learn that we don’t have near-unanimous support, I typically pause to work on that. Often, even if I have the support I need to move the deal forward, I still want to feel like there’s a consensus ‘yes.’ I know…not very sales badger of me, right?

Here’s my logic: we already have more opportunity in front of us than we need in order to be successful. If I stretch to add a relationship that’s not fully supported on the client side, it has the potential to set off a chain reaction that can impact the entire company.

Here’s how this could play out:

  1. Because the deal could be on life support from day one, we could slip into survival mode (which in my experience is, like, the worst way to run a business).
  2. There’s the potential to overcompensate, or ‘grip the stick too hard’ as Rob often says.
  3. No matter what, you’ll always wonder about if/when the nasty is going to come out.
  4. Finally, it might just make us all feel crummy.

We’re not into all that, so in this case, we thought it better to work from a consensus ‘yes’ – and better to pass when that’s not the case.

Calendar Etiquette

Calendar Etiquette for the Modern-Day Professional

By WorkBook6’s Conscience  Kara Hutcheson

More than ever, we’re relying on our digital calendars, synched across a plethora of devices to keep our professional lives organized. The calendars, and appropriate calendar etiquette, dedicate our daily work hours, track important deadlines, prompting reminders and (arguably) most importantly to coordinate and confirm our internal and inter-party interactions.

These digital tools are more advanced than ever but for some reason missed connections and confusing communication reigns more prevalent than ever. Take advantage of the administrative tools you are possibly overlooking every day and use the following best practices to make sure that your calendar is serving you at it’s full capability and that your ‘calendar communication style’ is as direct as possible.

Schedule Your Call or Meeting with Other Participants…No seriously.

This may seem obvious, but it’s actually a very prevalent poor practice that many busy business professionals use.

If you want a call or meeting (whether internally or with a third party), confirm with participants before assuming they are free. Establish a schedule and then extend a calendar invitation. While your schedule may be busy, it’s never safe to assume that your availability is representative of everyone’s availability.

Sending a calendar invite without confirming schedules is an easy way to provoke no-shows and late attendees.

Use the description field!

Between back-to-back meetings, reschedules and follow-ups to follow-ups, it’s easy for call and meeting content (and calendar etiquette) to become convoluted or repurposed. To make sure you’re accomplishing the necessary discussions, don’t hesitate to set an agenda (and set time suggestions for these agenda items).

While some people may hesitate to send an agenda in order to avoid looking dominant or pushy in the meeting, nine times out of ten, an agenda is appreciated by all participants to help focus the call/meeting and prepare attendees.

This is also a great place to include call or meeting materials, attachments, etc.

Calendar Etiquette: Please, Please, Please Accept or Decline Calendar Invitations

On the receipt side of calendar invitations, best practice is to accept or decline a meeting invitation to confirm your participation or lack thereof.

Leaving a calendar invite unaddressed leads to confusion about attendance and can prompt unnecessary reschedules. This is also very important if internal employees are tracking your availability to include you on additional meetings.

If you don’t accept a meeting invitation, your schedule can easily become double-booked or you may miss your notifications.

Follow Up on Calendar Invite Responses

This tip works on the receipt and delivery end. Never assume that if you decline a calendar invitation the other party is aware that the meeting is cancelled.

Calendar glitches happen all the time and sometimes an accidental click can completely misrepresent your intent. If you must cancel a meeting (especially last minute), include a note in the cancellation, or send a follow up email with whatever explanation you deem appropriate (this will also help you adhere to “Emily Post” style etiquette to help you avoid offending outside parties).

In addition, if you receive a decline notice from another party from a calendar invitation you hosted, follow up and ask if a reschedule is appropriate.

In conclusion

While these seems like extremely basic and obvious scheduling tips, you’d be shocked at how few business professionals are investing their time in calendar communication.

Why does it matter? If you’re working in any field that requires B2B communication or sales is an important aspect of your business, your communication style speaks a lot about who you are as a professional and the way your company operates.

If you don’t have a minute to spare administratively, consider bringing in some help through an administrative professional who can help own your calendar and put your best foot forward!

Happy Scheduling (and Calendar Etiquette)!

Let’s Connect!