Top Three Tips for Preparing for a Business Meeting – Part 1

As a freelancer, getting meetings with a prospective client is the holy grail – second only to getting the work itself. But, knowing how to appropriately plan for those meetings isn’t taught in school. Doing meetings well can make or break your opportunity to get work. Here are my top three tips for preparing for a business meeting. This is your homework before you even get a meeting.

For those of you who prefer reading to vlog-watching, here’s a quick summary of the top three:

1)              Do your homework.

Who is your client? What do they need or want to thrive in their industry? And specific to their current situation, are they ready to have a meeting? If so, about what? Who are the decision-makers and will they be at the meeting? You’ll want to make sure you can speak to the client’s needs and have the right players in the room to get real work done.

2)              Dress for success.

Many companies have nice t-shirts with their logos printed on them. Those are practical and great if a nice t-shirt is appropriate for the client you’re meeting with. If you knew you were going to photograph one of the top people in the business world, wouldn’t you dress up a little? Seriously—dress for success. You will be judged on how you look.

3)              Logistics.

Map out the location and route to the meeting in advance. Don’t rely on your phone’s GPS—sometimes there are tricks to finding a building. And a phone can’t give you notes on finding parking or which door to use. Get clarification from your client and check it out before you go.

young woman in business meeting

Bonus Points for Readers

Here are a few more tips on how to prepare for a business meeting:

  • Take your client’s contact information with you. All the preparation and mapping in the world won’t keep you from getting stuck behind a traffic accident or getting a flat tire when you least expect it. Have a way to get in touch and let them if promptly if you are going to be delayed.
  • Value people’s time—including your own. That means don’t cancel unless you absolutely have to; and if you do have to cancel, cancel as far in advance as you can. On the flip side of that, if the meeting was set up two months out, call and confirm it’s still on the calendar and moving forward.
  • Bring your collateral. You’re a professional about the enter the room where you might meet a half a dozen higher ups from this company you are trying to woo. Make sure you have enough collateral with you to hand out.
  • Take your portfolio—and test it. Most of us have our portfolio on an electronic device of some sort. Make sure your device is fully charged, bring your cords and adapters, and test your software before you go to make sure it works smoothly.

So There You Have It

The business rule of thumb is that you should spend about as much time preparing for a business meeting as you spend in the meeting itself. Spend that time making sure you know your client, your location, your wardrobe requirements, your client’s contact information, your schedule, your professional collateral, and your portfolio.