Welcome to part 4 of my Essential Lessons for New Freelancers series: top tips for successful client meetings. Unless you plan on only ever working remotely and communicating by phone and email, at some point you’ll have to meet with both potential and existing clients. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years to help you make these meetings go well.
Before the meeting
- You’ll look more professional if you’re well-prepared, so if you can, read up about the person you’re meeting, the company they work for, and the project you’ll be discussing. If they have a website already, that should give you some information, and you could also check for a LinkedIn profile, Facebook page or twitter account. If you know a bit about them beforehand, it’ll help you ask relevant and intelligent questions.
- Send your client a quick message the day before to reconfirm your meeting. It’s one last chance to make sure you both have remembered about the meeting and put the right time and place in your diary!
- Always get a contact phone number (preferably a mobile number) for the person you’re meeting. Make sure it’s stored in your phone so that if you get caught in traffic or need to contact them at the last minute you can call them. If you follow each other on twitter, a quick tweet or direct message can also be used for this, but actually speaking to the person is better.
At the meeting
- If you work from home, it’s likely that you’ll be meeting in a public place, like a coffee shop. You should aim to be about 5-10 minutes early; that gives you time to grab a coffee, settle at a table, and get organised with your notebook or project questionnaire. By being a little early, you’ll be more relaxed so you can make a good impression when your client arrives.
- Be friendly and chatty – you’ll build up a good rapport and it should become clear if you will be able to work well together. However, don’t be so chatty that you spend an hour gossiping like old friends. Some meetings will naturally take this route, but do try to remember that both and your client are there for business, not entertainment and you will both have schedules to stick to and work to do once the meeting is over.
- Be clear about what the next steps are; if, for example, you need to provide a quote for the work you’ve just discussed, make sure the client knows when they will receive it, or if you need more information from them, be clear about what they need to send you.
After the meeting
- It can be useful for both of you to have a written summary of what you discussed to make sure you’re both on the same page, so think about sending a follow-up email. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you and list the key points you talked over, along with any action points or next steps you agreed on.
- If you did agree on action points, make sure you stick to them – if you said you’d send a quote by Tuesday, you’d better deliver it by Tuesday!
So there you have 8 simple tips to help your meetings run more smoothly. If you have any tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment.