For many of us, much of our business is conducted online, via e-mail and on the phone. But have you ever considered reaching out to local businesses for new opportunities? This can be a good way to expand your business and form valuable relationships with your local community.
One important aspect of non-virtual business is being willing and able to successfully meet with clients face-to-face. This can be challenging if you have previously only focused on doing business online. There are a lot of things to consider in order to have a successful in-person meeting.
You should always ensure you are meeting in a safe public place. Yes, just like a blind date. Since many of your potential clients may also run home-based businesses, there may not be a set office space where meetings are held. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Meet in a central public location, such as a restaurant or coffee shop
- Bring a business partner or colleague, if possible
- Share the details of your meeting with a trusted friend
- Keep your cell phone handy
You certainly don’t want to go into a meeting with a potential client expecting the worst, but being prepared and ready to recognize potential problems can help to keep you safe. And this doesn’t apply only to women!
Making a Good First Impression
It should go without saying that you will want to be on time for your meeting. Try not to be late, but if you find you are running behind, call the client to let them know.
Even if your meeting is in a relaxed location, like a coffee shop, it’s still important to exude a professional and experienced image. Dress appropriately for the atmosphere (i.e. not a three-piece suit), but still make an effort to look professional and put together.
Be confident and let your body language support your confidence. Offer a firm handshake, smile and make eye contact while you’re communicating. And remember to relax and be yourself.
Preparing for Your Meeting
Before your meeting, clarify the agenda so you can prepare accordingly, and be ready to answer any anticipated questions.
Take time to learn as much as you can about the client and their needs. By having an understanding of what the client is looking for, you will be in a better position to show how you can meet their needs.
Bring marketing materials, such as business cards, brochures, a portfolio on CD and any other materials the client can take home with them. If you will be in a location with Internet access, bring a laptop so you can show live examples of your work. And make sure you pack a notepad so you can take notes during the meeting.
If you plan to use a PowerPoint presentation, be sure you’ve practiced and are ready to present it. It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan in case of a technical difficulty.
Do you meet with clients in-person? What advice would you offer?
Related post: The Non-Virtual World of Freelancing: Face-to-Face Networking
Image credit: soopahtoe