I once heard someone say, ‘On time is late,’ and I’d have to agree. One thing that can easily ruin a business meeting is getting there just a bit late. In many cases, you’ll lose the sale over it. However, arriving just on time can be just as counterproductive. Here’s why:
If we plan to arrive on time, it’s very easy for traffic, a chance meeting with an old friend, or any number of small incidents to make us late. Also, arriving just on time leaves us with no prep or setup time to make final arrangements or small course corrections to our presentation if needed. It also leaves no room for other opportunities. When I agree to meet a client for a sales presentation, or to close a deal, I typically arrive on-site about 20-30 minutes ahead of schedule. This gives me time for minor inconveniences like finding parking, and for opportunities that may arise. Have you ever arrived at an office building and met someone who could be your next client, but you had to rush because you had just enough time to get to your meeting?
I’ve made many ‘lobby connections’ over the years simply because I had a few extra minutes to chat with someone. In cases when the individual would start asking a lot of questions, they’d sometimes say something to the effect of ‘Oh, my I’m going to make you late for your meeting.’ My response, ‘Oh, I always arrive early just in case I run into someone who might be a good fit for one of my clients.’ Notice that I don’t say a thing about an opportunity for me to pitch my service. The immediate impression made is that of competence, because I clearly keep my commitments, I’m prepared for spontaneous opportunities, and I’m always thinking of how to be more valuable to my clients. Compare this to the harried salesman who practically throws his business card at you as he rushes by. Since I’ve been in business, most of the biggest breaks I’ve gotten have come through these seemingly chance encounters and the connections I’ve made simply because I keep myself free to notice and act on opportunities that present themselves.
Give it a try for a few weeks and see what happens.
See also: Never be in a hurry