Nailing The Face-To-Face Meeting
Profuse sweating? Check.
Mysterious stain on my shirt? Check.
One solitary hair that refuses to be slicked down? Check.
Sounds like I’m meeting a client for coffee. Cue the anxiety.
It’s easy to forget who your client really is. When your only communication is email and *maybe* the occasional phone call, the client quickly becomes 1D, made up of Gmail pings and dreaded phone notifications.
While this is happening, you’re becoming 1D for your client, too.
And that’s why we have face-to-face meetings.
Working from home doesn’t mean working alone. Meetings have value — serious value, the kind that makes you extra money and gets you tons of referrals.
You know that, as a freelancer, the human experience is a huge part of signing clients. Clients want to see your face and to trust your judgement, and meetings are a huge part of building that relationship.
You’ve sent the Google invite, it’s the night before your meeting, and you’re petrified. How do you deal?
Here’s a few easy tricks I’ve picked up along the way that will help boost your confidence and make the meeting go smooth as buttah on a summer day.
Practice makes perfect
Pro tip: People like to laugh. Including your clients.
Getting your clients on your side is easy if you know how to make them happy. It’s science. Why? Because if their brains release happy chemicals when they see you, they’re going to want to see you more. That means more projects, more money, more respect, and more referrals.
So, before you meet your client, think about what you’re going to say. Think of funny stories — nothing political or sexual, thanks — and how you’re going to segue them into your project. Think about what your client likes and what you can bond over.
The point of all of this is to build a real human relationship with your client. They probably don’t want you to see them as the bearer of occasional checks, and you don’t want them to see you as a floating set of hands behind a laptop screen.
It might seem like overkill, but the rehearsal will help you understand your pace and your client’s interests better – and will help you build a better meeting framework for yourself.
Make a new friend
When was the last time you went on a first date with a new friend?
See, none of these in-person interactions are easy at the beginning. But they all have the same goal – to make someone else like you.
Treat your client like a new friend. It’s easy.
• Don’t talk about politics, sex, or religion yet. You’re both new to this playground, and it’s not time to go into those topics yet. Keep it light.
• Don’t be gross. Eat with your mouth closed, don’t chew gum loudly, and (probably) don’t eat sushi or spaghetti — but that last one might be a personal issue.
• Make yourself a repeat customer. Don’t drag the meeting on forever, and don’t spill your guts. Make sure your client (er, new friend) has to meet you again, and again, and again for the full scoop.
Your grown up closet
Dress the part. This is the easiest part.
One of my biggest fears is being ‘found out.’ Do you know what I mean?
It’s called ‘impostor syndrome,’ when all of your accomplishments feel less than and you’re terrified that everyone will realize and it will all be over forever.
Getting over that isn’t so simple, but dressing like I’m over it is a good start.
When I go to meet clients, I make sure I’m always wearing a sort of uniform — all black, glasses, and flats. Why?
My clients know what to expect when they see me. They’re never (rarely) surprised. I’m consistent, and that makes them comfortable — and more importantly, it makes them feel like they’re in safe hands. They’re secure in our relationship, which makes them secure in my work.
Finding the good parts/shameless plug
Chances are that coffee meetings aren’t why you became a freelancer, but they don’t have to be a bummer.
With some careful thought and a tiny bit of planning, the freelancer in the stained shirt is going to sit this meeting out — and you’re back in control.
Want to feel even more in control? Market yoself.
Our marketing course, Marketing For Honest Freelancers, is a full-on guide for getting and keeping clients by being your best you. Learn how to leverage your network, tell your story, and put together the side projects that will make your career soar.
Shayna is the Head of Friendship at The nuSchool, doing all things blog/community/biz dev/happy. She's a freelance copywriter working in art and design, and has two dogs named Chuck and Alma.
Good stuff is on the way.
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