I have some thoughtful friends who promptly send calendar invites after we arrange to get together, almost without fail. I love that. And to those particular friends, a heartfelt thank you. Calendar invites are a time-saving gift.
I say “gift” for a reason. I appreciate them very much, but I don’t expect them — and I’ll still show up if you don’t send them.
In business, I’ve noticed a growing trend of people asking for calendar invites when meetings are set over email. I get it. We’re all busy and looking for every way to save time. But asking for a simple calendar invite opens a hornet’s nest of power dynamics and etiquette snafus.
When friends send calendar invites, it is indeed a friendly gesture, and one that doesn’t necessarily have a hierarchy attached. It’s just a friend, sending a calendar invite to another friend. No big deal.
But in business, watch out. When should you ask someone else to send you a calendar invite? Never, with few exceptions.
Here’s a handy guide:
1) You are clearly more senior than the other person, and the other person is asking you for some of your precious time. OK yes, you can ask for a calendar invite.
2) Your plane is about to take off, you are emailing with someone’s assistant whose job it is to schedule meetings, and you want to make sure your schedule is blocked while you’re on the plane and off the grid. In this case, yes, you can politely explain this to the assistant and ask him/her to send you a calendar invite.
I can’t think of other circumstances that easily warrant asking for the gift of a calendar invite.
If you’re a startup founder who has requested a meeting with a VC, should you ask for a calendar invite? Peers in an industry, meeting for the first time? If you are asking anyone to spend time with you, should you then ask them to send a calendar invite?
Ask for a calendar invite at your own peril. It just might be the end of a relationship that hasn’t yet begun.