10 Ways To Nail Your Business Meeting: For The New Entrepreneur
When you are first getting out of college, getting into the real world or attempting to get into freelance or entrepreneurship the world of the business meeting can seem strange and contrived.
You get all dressed up in you navy blue J.Crew suit, brown wing tips and part your hair just to meet at Panera for some coffee for half an hour and realize there wasn’t as much to the business meeting as you thought.
Understanding the caliber of meeting you are getting into is vital to you success. Whether it be in ministry, business, freelance, or an interview, these rules can still apply. But one thing holds true as well. The meeting starts long before you arrive. Establishing the dynamics and relationship of you and your client is half the battle.
Pick An Outfit
Depending on where you are business meeting your client will set the severity of your wardrobe. If you are meeting in an office, be safe and suit up. For coffee at an offset location, wear some jeans, dress shoes and a blazer. Ladies, I’m sorry. I can help you with every other step, just not this one. Just a general rule, you can never overdress.
Have A Game Plan
The whole reason you are meeting your client is to work with them, be prepared with what you need from them, where you want the business meeting to go and how you are going to say it. Have visual cues on your laptop or iPad if necessary. Successful people value their time above all else, so make sure you value your own time and the time of your clients.
On that note, be there before them. Nothing shows that you take your client seriously like punctuality. Have your table set up and ready to go when they get there. Or wait for them outside if it’s nice out. Don’t order without them.
Be Authentic & Converse About Life
I don’t think I have to mention this, but I’m assuming their your client because they like you. Catch up a bit about what’s going on in their lives, what’s important to them. Let them know you care and that you’re not just using them as a cash cow (don’t actually say that).
Get Down To Brass Tax
Once you’ve caught up for a little bit, and the chit chat has run it’s organic course, you get right down to business. It won’t be awkward to jump subjects. After all, that’s what you’re both there for! Start with something like “So I’m sooo excited about project x, I’ve been reading it over lately and can’t wait to get it going!”. All of the sudden you’re in meeting town!
Keep It Concise
Don’t go off into entrepreneur detour land. I know how fun it is! But anchor down and stay on topic, they are paying you to keep them focused (amongst many other things). If the conversation starts to wander off into other projects or goes well beyond an hour (or 1/2 hour depending on who you are) you should begin to wrap it up.
Always Exchange Information
If by any chance you don’t have a business card, you can simply e-mail me to get one at firstname.lastname@example.org. But until you have it in your hand, print out a couple of copies of some of the things you will discuss at your meeting in advance, along with your information and bring it to the meeting. Hand one to your client, and have them write their info on the other.
Offer To Pay
If you’re at a restaurant or coffee shop, pick up the tab (bill them later). I’m just kidding!!!! Seriously, pick up the tab and try not to let them pay. You’re clients are people you should be taking care of every chance you get in business. Something small like a business meeting should be “on the house” for them. They shouldn’t have to pay to hire you.
Set Timelines and Clear Expectations
A constant struggle for me as a new freelancer, entrepreneur, or even a brand manager when I began my Graphic Design career was to set expectations. Letting your clients know how long it will be before they see the product they are expecting is indispensable. If clear expectations aren’t set in your meetings, things can become foggy later on, leading to miscommunication and eventually an argument.
Salvage your client relationships by talking them through whats expected of them, and asking them what they expect of you. It will save everyone a whole lot of trouble.
Chit Chat About Anything Besides Business
Once business is over, don’t be afraid to get a little personal. I’m not exactly talking about asking them about their relationship with Jesus Christ (unless they mentioned church in the meeting) but maybe their kid plays soccer, or they enjoy Fender Guitars. Be genuine and talk about something that you find interesting. Most people can sense a false sense of interest from a mile away so don’t force it, just remember, you have value to add to everyone.
What experiences have you had in a business meeting? Did I miss anything? How would this work for you? Let me know in the comments section!