When you start your small business or freelancing – you might think that meeting clients isn’t going to happen for you. However, the more confident you get in your skills and the better your work becomes over time, you are likely to start meeting clients.
It might be heading to their office, or it might be them coming to yours (or a mutually agreed coffee shop). While you aren’t going to be expected to be top to toe suited, you do need to think about the impression you will be giving.
So how can you make the best first impression with your clients?
As soon as you find out who you will be meeting, you should find out more about them. Knowing the company culture will be helpful – but the company culture doesn’t cover personal style and taste. Don’t go as far as to mimic them, but be aware of who they are. This can help you dress to impress – and have the right attitude going in.
In some industries, you are expected to present yourself how others do – but always keep in mind your USP. For example, in many digital industries, it is more common to see people in jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt. While others, like the beauty industry, you are going to be expected to show some of the techniques and products. To see what is common in your industry and work with that.
Unless you are deeply into the arts and creative sector, you aren’t likely to have ink and paint on your hands and fingers. For most other sectors, your client will expect you to be clean and smell fresh. Try to avoid overpowering scents too as this can be very off putting.
Your client is likely to arrive with a lot of things they want to ask, and you should be prepared to answer these questions. What else is important? If it is your first client meeting, you might get nervous, so plan some talking points in advance so that if there are any silences that happen, you have something to discuss.
A few days before your appointment, head to the barber or the hair salon. Having your hair either trimmed or some length and volume added in The London Hair Lab will give you a boost of confidence. Doing it a few days before will give it time to settle. Try on the clothing and the shoes that you want to wear so they are comfortable – and have a backup. Check the weather so you are prepared.
You would be surprised to hear how many people don’t bring their work samples or photos to the meetings. Bring a selection not just of your best work – but work that leans into their requirements and what they are looking for. Depending on the type of industry, you can build, sketch, or make some options, too – even for a first chat.
Sometimes a client will come into a meeting knowing that they are ready to move to the next step. Although it is usually a good idea to consider this as a possibility and not expect it, you’re going to need to be ready for it. Have some idea of what the next steps would be.
- Do your research on the person/people you are meeting and the company
- Represent your industry well
- Smell and look clean (presentable)
- Create some talking points to fill any silence and build a rapport
- Arrange outfits, grooming appointments, backup outfits, and everything a few days in advance so you feel your best
- Tailor your samples to the client
- Consider the next steps so you are ready if the client asks
Taking client meetings can be a big step, and one you shouldn’t rush – here are a couple of things to avoid: Common Startup Pitfalls You Should Avoid.