The sweet spot

I’m finding that when it comes to business communication, there is a sweet spot to most things.

To thank someone for a helpful meeting, the it’s best to email them the very next day. If you meet someone new, try to email them within 48 hours if you want a response. If you’re waiting for a semi-urgent response from someone, email again in 2–3 days. If it’s not urgent, ping them again in one week.

There are a lot of arbitrary rules and conventions that seem to drive a lot of our behaviors in business. But one sweet spot that I have found it hard to get completely right is event RSVPs.

In any given year, our USV Network programming offers more than 150 events to employees at portfolio companies. This means we are essentially always prepping for one event while planning for another (often while a third is happening in real time).

Early on, we received feedback that our events calendar wasn’t posted far enough in advance. So now we have all of our events posted in one single place as far as 3–6 months out. But now (as we’re learning), when somebody RSVPs to an event in July that doesn’t take place until October, there’s a lot less urgency around attending. And we start to see drop off. In essence, we missed the sweet spot between the desire to attend then and the reality to show up now.

It’s likely that the ratio of event attendance to lead time is a case by case scenario for a lot of people with a lot of variable factors. Time of year. Length of event. Whether or not you are flying in for it. Whether or not it costs something. Whether you can attend remotely.

But I’m starting to think some of it is around how much lead time you have from RSVP date to the date of the event. Maybe there’s a formula out there: X days for all-remote events, Y days for in-person all day events, and Z months for the need-to-attend once-a-year gatherings. Or maybe it’s not that formulaic at all.

If you have any thoughts or have seen studies or reports that analyze event attendance based on lead time, I would love to see them. Until then we will keep iterating until we figure out what that sweet spot means for us.


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