I used to meet clients at places like Panera Bread and Starbucks, this was a big mistake. I had no control over my environment and the professional perception of my business was decreased. To fix this I began meeting with clients at a coworking space.
Changing my meeting location to a coworking space completely changed how clients viewed my business. They were often more focused on the meeting, took my advice more seriously and did not mind my prices were higher than most freelancers.
Take Control of where you are meeting
Some clients don’t mind meeting in a public place. As a matter of fact, I used to ask the client where they would want to meet and they would normally pick their favorite coffee spot. Though this space was comfortable for them it’s not the best environment to conduct a serious meeting because there are too many distractions. Be a professional, take control and inform the client of a date, time, and location to meet. You want to show early on in your process that the client does not have to worry about anything and you’ve got it all cover, event if it is something as a meeting location which may seem like a minor detail. Chances are if you care enough about small detail such as a meeting location then that same care will translate through your whole process.
The quickest way to kill your professionalism is to get embarrassed or distracted in a meeting. I remember meeting a client at Panera Bread for a meeting. I was asking the client the necessary questions to scope out the work and I saw 2 people who I knew. Of course, they walked up to say hi and were nice about it but my meeting was interrupted twice. Every time we were interrupted it took mental energy to recalibrate and get back into “focused meeting mode”. This led me to see the need to have a dedicated place for meetings, but being I knew I didn’t want to rent an office, all I need was a space to meet with clients. Enter coworking spaces.
A coworking space is shared office space where you can rent a dedicated desk or conference room. You can choose to be a monthly member or use a pay as you go model. In the past, you would have to rent an entire office to close to $700+ a month but coworking spaces give you a professional office experience at a fraction of the cost. Coworking spaces have become increasing popular recently and are perfect for freelancers because perhaps you have a home office and you only need to meet at an “office” occasionally.
Impress your clients
What’s so special about a meeting space? This is an opportunity to shape the perceptions of your client. If you want others to take you seriously then you have to take yourself seriously. The attitude you need to have to go into a client meeting is “I’m a professional”. You don’t want to fall short of looking like a professional. I’m not saying you have to be boring and stale, but what I am saying is meeting at a professional office space will earn you respect and credibility with your client.
This also puts you on equal footing with big agencies. Most agencies have a large office space and clients are impressed by this. Again a coworking space with a great meeting room can give you this same “wow” factor.
If the client is in another city or country then the answer is easy, you can set up a Skype or Google Hangout meeting for your face to face meeting. I recommend having multiple meeting spaces, Houston is a very big city and based on where the client lives I schedule a time to meet at a coworking space that is not too far for the client to travel. Multiple coworking spaces are wise because in the event one space is booked you can shift your meeting to another location. When I traveled to Atlanta, GA for an event I was able to still get my work done at a coworking space I booked online prior to the trip. (Most hotel internet is not reliable and I have deadlines to keep.)
Focus your time
I”ve been in meetings that drag on forever and these can be draining. I recommend setting your meeting time to 1 hour. The reason I say 1 hour because it will help you and your client focus your thoughts because you know you only have 1 hour to come to a conclusion on the matter of business you are discussing. Having too much time for a meeting will lead to conversations that can get off of task.
Network with Other Creatives
At the coworking spaces, I’ve been too it is a great way to network and meet new creatives. I’ve met photographers, videographers, lawyers, consultants and so much more. Working in an environment with other creatives is a good way to get referrals for your business and collaborate to take on larger clients. You may even find people you can add to your team.
Coworking spaces in your area
Here are a few websites I’ve found helpful in booking coworking spaces:
If none of those sites work for you then you can always try using Google Maps and type in “coworking spaces”.
Big thank you to Aye_Jones of The Car_Tune Show who helped me set up the GoPro Camera for use in this episode.