3 Keys to Scheduling a Meeting via E-Mail

In: Start-Up

19 Nov 2009

scheduleOne issue that has been killing me lately is how people attempt to schedule meetings with others via e-mail.

I love meeting new people especially those that are doing things they are passionate about.  Many people I try to schedule meetings with are a lot higher on the foodchain than I am, so being able to quickly and succinctly articulate  that I want to meet with them is super important.  Let’s face it, the guys who are way up the food chain are busy and don’t have time for a threaded e-mail chat over gmail.

So here are my 3 keys to getting the job done quick and easy…

Key 1: 3 Sentences Max

We live in the world of Blackberries, iPhones and SMS, don’t forget that!  If your e-mail is more than three sentences that means you aren’t getting your point across fast enough.  There is no need for fluff in e-mails, everyone is busy and everyone means business so let’s get to the point.

Sentence one – Who are you and what are you doing.

Sentence two – Why you want to meet this person.  (If you have a warm lead, use the person’s name who told you to get in touch)

Sentence three – Reference key #2.

Key 2: Date, Time and Location

This is the biggest mistake I see most people make and this is the part that kills me the most.  If you want to meet with someone make sure you take the lead in picking a date, time and location.

I understand that one might think leaving the opportunity for the other person to choose a date and time that is convenient for them would be the courteous thing to do.  Wrong!  By asking the other person to select a date, time and location you are making them do more work which is taking up their precious time.

I personally will throw out two dates, two times and two locations.  That gives the other person options and you are more likely to land a meeting in one e-mail, saving you time and a headache.  Plus if you choose the location make it close to where you live or work so it’s convenient for you!

Key 3: Keep the Ball in Your Court

As soon as you ask the other person to choose a date, time and location of their convenience you lose control of the conversation.   You have just allowed the other person to get back to you at their leisure.  If you’re anything like me and are really looking forward to meeting someone, you want to know as soon as possible when to expect that meeting.

By providing a date, time and location option, it’s really easy to follow up if you don’t get a response within a couple of days.  For example if I don’t hear back within 2 or 3 days I shoot another e-mail with two lines one of which being, ‘just wanted to check in to see if you are still up for meeting at location on date at time.


Here is an example of what I’ve whittled my e-mails down to.

Hello Steve,

My name is Cort Johnson and I’m from DartBoston, a community for Boston’s most passionate under 30 entrepreneurs, students and professionals.  I was told I had to get in touch with you by John Doe.  If you are available on December 15 or 16 at 7pm to meet at Starbucks on Boylston St. I would love the opportunity to learn more about what you are working on as well as tell you more about DartBoston.



I would love to know what everyone thinks…

Photo by Qfamily

30 Responses to 3 Keys to Scheduling a Meeting via E-Mail



November 19th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Good point Cort. I’ve been noticing this myself more and more and sometimes even if both parties are fairly responsive the thread of back and forth emails is ridiculous if everyone is trying to be ‘courteous.’ Giving 2 date/time options and 1 location is fair, and forces the other person to give a yes or no answer.



November 19th, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Agreed, one location is fine as well. I like to throw out a coffee shop or a bar if I meet in the evening to give the variety of beverage choices.



November 19th, 2009 at 8:57 pm


You are *so* dead on with this post. Having worked in an Executive Asssitant capacity many times, one of the biggest nightmares is a 20 string email volley.

People who are at the executive level don’t have the time or patience when it comes to reading novel-length emails. Your tips above really help people avoid that.




November 19th, 2009 at 8:57 pm

I am saving this post and forwarding it to everyone I know. Lately, I’ve been scheduling meetings through e-mail like a mad woman. It’s tough because you’re depending on someone who you’ve never met before. I really liked your point about keeping e-mails short and to the point. We are all busy and on the go, long winded emails were cool in the 90’s, today not so much. I am dealing with people who are higher up in the “food chain” too and I always thought it was better leaving the ball in their court. I didn’t want them to think I was overstepping my boundaries. You’re right though, it’s easier and less time consuming for both parties if you throw out dates that work for you. This post might have changed the way I email, thanks for that.

Weird though, I am at Starbucks on Boylston…right now! Must be a sign.



November 19th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Haha… I love that Starbucks!

Yeah I used to leave date and time logistics up to the other person for the same reason but in reality it is just putting more pressure and burden on them. Ever since I switched I have been able to schedule so many more meetings and they have been scheduled really quickly too!

If you find other helpful techniques, let me know, I’m always looking to improve efficiency.


Leslie Poston

November 19th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I’d only add to give minimum two weeks lead time. for me, it makes it easier to say yes if given a nice window to account for possible travel and my consistently full schedule



November 19th, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I think 2 weeks is fair but I usually do date one within a week and date two within two weeks. Just my personal preference but I can see where you are coming from especially if you keep the schedule full at all times!


GreenhornTV Episode 3: Thanksgiving Week & Networking Tips

November 22nd, 2009 at 7:37 pm

[…] – Take the business cards you got and follow up by connecting on linked in – If you’re looking to follow up with a meeting, ask for it. (See Cort’s blog for tips on asking for a meeting) […]


Christopher Mirabile

November 23rd, 2009 at 12:34 am

Court: Great post. Agree 100%. I’d add one additional tip to the mix: mark your calendar with “holds” in any slots you propose to people. Serves two important purposes: (1) avoids the dreaded double-booking (2) serves as a reminder that an event is still pending – if you get to the first date, or you need one of the slots you offered up for some other purpose it is a good reminder to see where the original meeting stands. -Christopher



December 10th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Hey Cort,

Nice post! I’ve also had success telling people what’s in it for them. ie. “If you are interested, I would love to show you the latest technology in your field, as well as give you a free account”. Obviously depends on what you are doing, but it works. What do you think?


Never Late for an Appointment - Cortlandt Johnson

February 23rd, 2010 at 2:58 am

[…] I live and work as well as at times that are convenient for me.  I’ve talked about how I schedule meetings in an earlier post but in a nut shell I tend to put myself in the driver’s seat when it comes […]


Moawad Ali

April 20th, 2010 at 10:15 am

Dear Cort;
It is so nice, belive me I learned too much from your notes.
And I already started using it in my mail requesting for meetings.
Thanks too much.
Best Regards.
Moawad Ali


Univ. Dean Admin. Asst.

August 11th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

All your comments have been so helpful! However, I’m in a University setting and faculty are not like regular business people…am I right? So would I schedule faculty meetings with the Dean the same way?


Pittsburgh Social Media Marketing

May 13th, 2011 at 9:10 am


Excellent post. Business brevity, especially for higher level executives, is very important. It gets across the point that you are not going to bs or bore them to death in a meeting as well.




October 24th, 2011 at 9:24 am

Thank you for this post! I am currently working with city officials/educators in major cities across the country to present wellness workshops in schools. The information you posted gave me the verbiage I needed to articulate my request, as well as the confidence I needed to actually hit the “send” button Great job!



January 10th, 2012 at 10:26 am

Great suggestions. I do often wonder what you place in the subject line of the email.


Laura Matrisciano

January 11th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hi Cort – great post! Thanks for taking the time to write it for all of us. One thing – do you include an e-brochure or any materials in the email? Thanks!



March 19th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Hey Cort, I started doing this with my new job a couple of months ago. I then started looking up ways of doing this because I felt like a pushy salesman doing it. However; It works! Thanks for confirming that the people on the other end appreciate you taking control and being brief!


Brendan Boyle

March 23rd, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hey Court,

While I agree with a lot of your advice, I am often hesitant to throw out a date and time. I am a third year law student who schedules a lot of networking meetings with lawyers. Usually my only reason to meet with them is to learn about their practice. I like to leave the ball in their court since I’m not really bringing much to the table and I don’t want to be presumptuous. I was wondering what your thoughts on that were.



April 12th, 2012 at 5:19 am

Nice post. Very helpful. What would be a nice subject line to go with this?



July 2nd, 2012 at 5:27 am

Great mate. Solved my problem. Thank you.



September 18th, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Thank you. Really helpful post.



September 22nd, 2012 at 12:41 am

That’s an amazing post.



October 15th, 2012 at 10:56 am

This just saved my a**!! Thank you! :)



November 20th, 2012 at 8:06 am

Good point
Thanks for sharing



November 27th, 2012 at 4:50 am

I think that it’s necessary precise next point: why this meeting may be interesting for Steve?



February 20th, 2013 at 10:11 pm

This was really helpful. I deal with this issue on a daily basis. Its like Alexa said some of my emails can clients go on forever trying to setup a meeting. Thanks for the advice!


Isabel Marant Sneakers

October 17th, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I almost never leave comments, but I read a bunch of remarks here 3
Keys to Scheduling a Meeting via E-Mail – Cortlandt Johnson.
I do have some questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be only me or does it give
the impression like some of these responses come across as if they are written by brain dead visitors?
😛 And, if you are writing on other online sites, I would like to keep up with you.
Could you post a list of all of all your social community sites like your linkedin
profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?


michael love

April 16th, 2014 at 9:51 am

Great post, I to am wondering could you give some examples of what you put in the subject line of your e-mails. Thanks



July 10th, 2014 at 1:42 am

Hi Cort,

Thanks first.

I would like to know about subject line in the first shot mail.


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About this blog

Hi, my name is Cort. I'm a venture partner at Accomplice, an early stage venture firm and run hack/securehack/secure, a community of cybersecurity thinkers and doers.

Prior to Accomplice, I co-founded Terrible Labs, Boston’s premiere web and mobile development company which was acquired by Autodesk. While at Terrible Labs, I also co-founded TicketZen, a mobile, parking ticket payment provider.

I am all about getting out into the community to meet other passionate entrepreneurs so get in touch if I can be of any help.


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