“Old School” Tips for Meeting Clients in Person

Look — anyone can run a meeting, schedule a lunch or grab drinks with your client.  I’m not arguing that it’s difficult, but I’d like to make the case that it can be done better, smoother, more efficiently and (hopefully) with grace.  Below are some tips you can follow to make your in-person experience go off without a hitch.

  1. Plan Properly: Reach out to your client with a few different days and times that are available to meet.  These days/times should be decided on internally or via use of the scheduling assistant on your end.  Don’t go back and forth with your own team regarding time when your client is on the e-mail thread — have it locked down beforehand.  Whether you’re meeting near your own office or somewhere else, it’s courteous to pick a few meeting locations (restaurants etc.,) and give your client the option of choosing what they would like best.
  2. Send an Agenda, Set a goal: While meetings flow best with a bit of leg room, sending an agenda over beforehand will help lead the discussion in the right direction and let the client know you have a plan.  Speaking of a plan, I recommend setting a “meeting goal” as well.  What is the purpose of this meeting?  While it may be simply to ” review quarterly performance,” go a bit deeper.  If, during your review, you realize there is a prime opportunity for mobile but the client is a bit weary, your goal might be “show our client the value of mobile and move 25% of search budget to those devices.”
  3. Arrive on Time, Greet Properly: This should go without saying, and yet it still occurs.  Arrive on time!  You don’t need to be 15 minutes early, but account for traffic, getting lost or stopping for coffee.  If you work in digital, your time is extremely limited and important, so don’t make others wait on you.  For greetings, follow the simple rules that have worked for countless generations: a greeting with eye contact and a firm handshake.  Be sure to introduce any new members of your team, and make note of any new client faces.  I highly recommend using a mnemonic device to remember new names.
  4. Dress Well: This does not mean you need to invest in a $5000 suit/dress and sparkling ruby shoes, but it does mean you need to put forth some effort in looking decent (looking at you, Seattle business culture).  At a bare minimum: nice shoes, “dressy” jeans with a belt, and a pressed shirt.  In most cases, I’d recommend stepping it up a bit and wearing dress pants in place of jeans.  In my humble opinion, it’s the fit that matters most: make sure you aren’t swimming in your clothes.
  5. Introduce: If there is more than 1 new person at a meeting, I believe that going around the room for full introductions is wise.  Introductions should consist of your full name, title, length at the company, and a quick background/history.  Depending on the atmosphere, it may be nice to include a fun fact with your introduction.
  6. Follow Up: Take notes during your meeting, note any action items (for each side) and follow up with them afterwards.  It’s always nice to know that you were heard at a meeting, and to hear that your account team has things handled.

Will Goldfarb About the author
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