Friday, January 21, 2011

Slow burn

One of the toughest and most frustrating things I've found in doing free lance writing for the past nine years is not knowing when someone is flaky and just not worth doing business with. You have to learn their flakiness all by yourself every time you work with someone new. When you're in a corporation or any size organization, you pick up the scuttlebutt, expressions, nuances of body language and other signals so you can prepare yourself mentally for flakiness before it happens to you.

Case in point: I was supposed to meet a guy about doing some writing work for him this morning at 10am. We set the appointment up the first week in January and it has been postponed (his request) twice for legitimate reasons.

  • First mistake: I didn't send him a follow up message earlier this week to confirm our meeting. 
  • Second mistake: In setting the meeting, I never specifically asked if his office was the appropriate location to meet. His Website lists an address and I knew where it was located. So I figured we were all set.

I dutifully wrote down his address and phone number and set off in plenty of time this morning to get there. Dressed in business attire and with complete portfolio in hand.

His street address was a UPS Store. In a one story building so there's clearly not offices above it. Called him 15 minutes before our appointed time asking, essentially, WTF. Got voice mail and left a message.

Killed time getting coffee and taking care of a couple errands. No call. Went home and sent him an email message but refused to say "sorry we didn't get together." Hell, I'm not sorry - he's the dingo who didn't let me know where we should meet.

Received a message about an hour and a quarter later from him saying "sorry for the confusion." Confusion, hecky darn, my left quadrant. So we have set up another meeting for Monday at 11am. At a location that has now been named. Yeay.

I dunno if he's really flaky or too busy or just doesn't pay attention to details. My flaky meter is starting to tick (well, that started after the first postponement) more insistently but I'm hoping for a better reaction in person on Monday. Since getting his two mail notes to set up the Monday meeting I've been getting more aggravated about this and that's why I'm writing. I need to get it off my chest so I can get back to the business at hand.

If any of you have any suggestions for culling and assessing flakiness early in a business relationship, I'd sure love to hear them. This gets so tiring and in the meantime, time is winging away and I'm not making money as a result. Sigh.

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