Here is a problem I am sure is not isolated to me: for potential consulting clients or clients seeking strategic work, I allow some “get to know me and tell me about your struggles” time. I do my best to limit this time to an hour, and a surprising amount of information can be conveyed in a focused hour of communication. Increasingly, however, I find this time, which has no monetary cost for my client, is being stretched by the interruptions of mobile devices. As a society, we seem to have agreed that answering your phone during a meeting is unacceptable, but mobile texts and emails can be received and sent if determined important.
I am struggling to remember where I found it, but I recently read the average response time for an email is 52 hours. The average response time for a text is less than 4 minutes. This explains the dramatic increase in texting between businesspeople. It also explains the social pressure we feel to respond to these messages quickly.
Here is a short and humorous video from Renny Gleeson on this new etiquette problem:
The problem for consultants like me, as well as attorneys, accountants, and other professionals who bill by the hour is simple: what is the best way to control this phenomenon in our introductory meetings? Few clients respond to email on their mobile device when they are paying by the hour, and in those situations, I find it much less frustrating. I am seriously considering a “no mobile devices” rule for introductory meetings. If you have thoughts or have found a fair way to control this issue, please send me an email, or add it to the comments. I will follow-up with all of you next week with a summary of the advice I receive.
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