Five Tips for a Productive First Meeting with a Potential Client

 
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The first meeting with a new client can determine how well your working relationship will turn out. You only get one shot to make a first impression, so you want to make sure your meeting is pleasant and productive. One of the main points you should get across to your client is the value of your time. Setting boundaries in the beginning will help to create an understanding between you and your client that will help move your relationship in the right direction. Here are some tips to help you plan your next client meeting:

 

1. Set a time frame
When setting up your meeting, it is important to establish a set time frame beforehand and stick to it. Your first meeting should be focused on what the project entails and to determine if it would be a good fit for all parties involved. Confining your meeting to the specified time frame helps to keep the conversation on track and shows your client that your time is important. This will help set the tone of your working relationship.

 

2. Create an agenda
Map out the goals for the meeting and determine exactly what you want to accomplish. Make sure you will be able to cover all the important points throughout the duration of this meeting. Building a rapport is important, so you should definitely layer in some personal conversation in addition to your business discussions. However, make it a point to inform your client early on as to what you expect to achieve by the conclusion of the meeting.

 

3. Choose an appropriate location
Be strategic when choosing the location of your meeting. Consider meeting at your office or a neutral location such as a coffee shop – rather than the client’s home or office. The meeting should be focused on creating a rapport, and you don’t want the meeting to turn into a consultation. When choosing the location, make sure it’s in a place that is quiet enough to have a private conversation.

 

4. Avoid personal distractions
Situations are bound to arise in our personal lives, so it’s not expected that you should disconnect completely. However, if you know there is something occurring in your personal life that will prevent you from staying focused on the meeting, it may be best to reschedule for a more convenient time. You also want to avoid checking your phone for new emails or text messages as this can seem rude and unprofessional.

 

5. Discuss next steps
If the meeting goes well and seems to be a good fit, be sure to discuss next steps and what the client should expect in the upcoming days. Leaving too much time in-between communication is an easy way to lose client interest, especially if they have specific deadlines to complete the project. Let them know when you are available for a consultation, so you can thoroughly assess the scope of work to establish a timeline for the project. Remember, as valuable as your time is, the client’s time is extremely valuable as well, and they are looking to invest in you to get their project completed.

 
Erin Gilbert