Your first meeting with a client can be pretty stressful. Even if you’re well prepared, you may still feel nervous, however, you don’t want this to be obvious to a potential client. Today we’ll give you some helpful hints on how you to handle meetings with professionalism and confidence, even when you’re feeling anxious and under pressure to succeed.
First impressions count
If you haven’t yet met your potential customer face to face, then the first impression will be even more important. This includes how you dress and your general appearance. Whilst you should to adapt your style according to the field of business or the company, this doesn’t mean that you have to disguise yourself! However, a smarter style is preferred in some business sectors, so you may want to wear a suit or something formal. So if you know from your research that the company works in this kind of field, it makes sense for you adapt your style accordingly. Although other professional fields may be more informal, sweatpants and baggy sweaters are definitely not a good idea. However, it’s fine to dress in smart casual style that will still give make a good impression. With some clients, the wrong choice of clothes could really ruin your chances so it’s a good idea to find out in advance what the dress code is like at a particular company.
Of course, it is not just your clothes that matter. The way you present yourself will also leave an impression with your customer. An open smile and direct eye contact will make a more positive impression. You should also pay attention to how you shake hands when you greet your client; this shouldn’t be too feeble or too vigorous. You could even practice with a friend. You want to come across as self-assured and a firm handshake could make a difference.
Pay attention to your body language
In addition to your appearance, your facial expressions, body language and posture are also important during the meeting. Small gestures, such as a nod or a smile, signal to the client that you are listening and focused on what they’re saying. When the client is talking, let them finish and ask questions later. If you constantly interrupt them, you’ll seem rude. Your posture can also reveal a lot about you and your character, so pay attention to how you’re sitting. Try to sit up straight and face your client when they are speaking to you. Wriggling around in your seat will make you look unprofessional and leave a very bad impression. Remember that it’s a business meeting and that you’re not on the couch with your friends.
Let your client speak
It is very important to let your client speak during your meeting. Naturally, you want to distinguish yourself from your potential competitors and show what you have to offer. And all of that is important, but not right at the beginning of the meeting. If a customer has asked you to meet them, this means they have already found out something about you and the skills you have to offer – that’s why they invited you to the meeting!
It is essential that you show an interest in your client, their company and the current project. And the best way to do that is by letting them tell you about it. You should ask specific questions and give your client the chance to answer them. Open questions (starting with what, how or why) usually work best. You should also respond to what your client says; this enables you to demonstrate your expertise and show that you are familiar with the subject matter. You can also refer to similar problems that you’ve successfully overcome in the past. But don’t go overboard: stick to the key points and then return the focus to your client. They are likely to do most of the talking, at least at beginning of your meeting.
All in all, despite any nervousness, you can still come across as confident. Make sure you look good on the day of your meeting and dress in an appropriate style for that particular sector or company. Your body language and posture also reveal a lot about you. Keep focused on the fact that you’re with a customer and act appropriately. Show your interested in the project and ask questions. Listen to what your client has to say and then respond.
Working as a freelancer: how to write an invoice
Have you successfully completed your first job as a freelancer? Then it’s time to send your bill. If you’re self-employed, you won’t receive a salary once you have signed a contract. Instead, you’ll need to invoice your client. In our next article in the ‘Working as a freelancer’ series on Friday 29 November 2019, we’ll explain how to write invoices.