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For some research I have to interview expert in the field.I try to it via LinkedIn, so the people I approach have never met me in person.

I can easily approach them and convince them for an interview. However I struggle to properly set a date and time. I think there is something wrong with the way I ask them.

I set up an online calendar with all my availabilities. People can choose an appropriate moment for the interview.

Here comes the difficult moment; I usually say something like this:

" I make things very easy for you, here is a link to my schedule, I'm looking forward to meet you."

In my opinion I sound like someone who pushes hard.

If I don't step forward and put an offer like this, then It complicates things for them, I want to give my guests the opportunity to set a date themselves instead of asking them to do it for me, but I don't know how to articulate it.

I live in north west Europe, but the people I contact are spread all over the world.

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  • Do you ask for the interview first, and then in a second email start with the time details, or do you send it all at once? Honestly, as the person likely to be the requestee in this scenario, I am not going to look at some rando's site to select a date like I am trying to buy concert tickets. – Damila May 4 at 15:13
  • @Damila Of course in the second email, after they agree to have the interview, actually Calendly is quite known website for meetings, you can connect it with all your Zoom en ... – Sam B May 4 at 15:26
  • @Damila Yeah I see your point, any alternative way to ask for date and time ? – Sam B May 4 at 15:29
  • What do they resond after the frst email- is it just "Yeas" or do they ask for dates, or what? – Damila May 4 at 15:42
  • @Damila Yes, they ask me usually to send an email with all the question for preparation, I have to send them a PDF file and then in the same email I send the link – Sam B May 4 at 15:58
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I'm at the stage in my career where I am more likely to be the requestee in this scenario. Also I am kind of old school FWIW.

Anyway, I think the main factor is that the onus is on you to make it work but also least intrusiveness. I understand that the calendar site idea is intended to avoid a 3-4 back and forth email exchange, and in some cases it would be the best solution. I think the key is to make that choice.

You: Hello Dr. Damila. I am Sam B, a student at FancyU doing research on yo-yo design. may I have an interview with you in the next week or two? Expert: Sure. Happy to speak to you

At this point, the Expert's response will do one of the following:

  1. offer a day or days and then you pick something that works
  2. Say "contact my secretary to schedule a 15 minuet appointment (I don't have one to do that.)
  3. Ask you to send some dates and times that would work.
  4. Add nothing- just say "Yeas, you can interview me."

(EDIT)For 1, pick a time in the timeframe that they offered, or if none of that works, answer as if it was option 3 with "Thank you so much. Unfortunately I have class all day Thursday, but would another time work?...{and then give the option 3 text with the Calendly, etc.}

For 2, do that obviously. For 1 and 3I think giving a choice- now that they have asked for some dates and times, you could say:

You Thank you so much, I am looking foreword to it. For your convenience, I have a Calendly link with my schedule and please pick a time convenient for you. Or if you prefer, I am generally available Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings {give two or three blocks that are wide open enough- you could say Thursday after 2 or whatever.}

For 4, same as above, but since they said nothing, modify it to: Thank you so much, I am looking foreword to it. Are there some times that are convenient? I have a Calendly link...{remainder of above suggestion}

Expert: OK, great. I will use the Calendly. OR Ok, great. How about Thursday at 2:30. OR "How about a time Friday between 9 and 11?"

and then go from there.

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  • First of all, Yo-Yo design ! I like it. Joking apart, your answer is generally really good. I find it really reassuring, it creates some safe space for people, the you. – Sam B May 4 at 16:04
  • Note edit- If the expert gives option 1 in the first reply, then pick something form what they offered. If you totally cannot, then ask about alternatives (as if their reply was option 3-). – Damila May 4 at 16:29
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Huge choice isn't an advantage you're offering, it's a duty you're expecting them to perform. I know, it sounds odd, but for many, choice is very hard. Also, expecting them to use a tool they've never used before to make that choice (worse if they have to book it there, and then synch it with their calendar) is more work.

I know, that's not what you mean to do; you're trying to make it as flexible as possible for the expert to fit you into their schedule. But things frequently work better when you narrow things down to a reasonable size for choice.

I got a call yesterday and needed to set up a followup. Now, it was live, so the back-and-forth was easier, but it went:

  • I do need some time to think before, sometime two weeks from now?
  • Let's look at next week. What times are good for you?
  • After 1500 I can usually be free.
  • I can do that. What day?
  • Tuesday or Thursday?
  • Okay Tuesday at 1500.

In email, it would probably go:

  • Can you suggest a few times that will work for you?
  • Sure - 1500-1700, TRF
  • okay, 1500 Tuesday.

So, when you get to the "we can talk, let's set a time" part mention three or four specific timeslots that would be "good for you" first. "Or, if those do not work for you, feel free to offer a slot open on my calendar [<Calendly link>]."

Part of offering timeslots is that the expert gets a feel for how much time they have to put aside for it, and when you "feel available". But a lot of it is just you doing some of the work in setting up the actual meeting rather than leaving it all up to them.

In response to the comment: when working worldwide, it's even more important to offer times that will work for you (in their normal working hours). It sounds like you're willing/required to be very flexible, but you still want to have booked-off hours for sleep. Note - of course the "times offered" won't be the same for each person; your job is to tailor them to the expert in Australia differently from the one in Guadalajara.

Sure the response will take a week (but booking on your calendar will take the same week - and that's if they don't say "have to learn new tool? it's not that important") but your response to their response will be immediate and hopefully be a fixed time.

The key to avoiding "a month back and forth" is that one of (their reply or your response to that reply) should be a fixed slot 90+% of the time - and that is totally under your control. Make it easy for them to give you a time that you can lock in, and then commit to locking it in.

Another pattern you could use, if you think it will work better, is "Okay, my usual hours in your timezone are [...]; can you suggest some options that would work for you this week or next and I will pick one? It will take about 15 minutes." It will still take a week for response - but then again, so would anything else - but your response and book will be immediate, again, and I doubt "all your suggestions are already booked" will be common. But I still prefer "offer suggestions in their time zone, give them an easy way to set an alternative if necessary." It's easier for people to say "no, your suggestions don't work, but this will" than it is to say "okay, out of my 9-11 mornings, when am I not going to be swamped with ... next week?", and the critical part of the process is to get them to make a decision, not get them to make an appointment.

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  • You're making some valid points, but the people I need to set up a plan with live in 5 different continent, offering them some few options wouldn't work. They are extremely busy people as well, they have a very tight schedule, btw it takes them 1 week to answer, back and forth emailing takes a month for me this way – Sam B May 4 at 17:18

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