Like many freelancers, I work out of my home and do not have a proper meeting area to invite clients. While most clients are pleased that I am so happy to meet them at their place of business others opt for a 3rd party location — the coffee shop meeting.
When you’re getting things started, coffee shops are a great place to hold kick-off meetings with a client. Large tables, W-Fi and some tasty caffeinated beverages are all essential ingredients for getting things done and a little more personable than a conference room that you may find at your local library or co-working space. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your next coffee shop meeting!
Choose Your Time Wisely
Think about the times of day when cafes are the busiest and schedule meetings around those rushes if you can. You may work out of a particular shop already and know what to expect, but if you’re unfamiliar with the traffic trends, stop in a few days before and talk with the Barista — they’ll be able to give you an idea of when the shop will be less crowded.
Show Up Early
Coffee shops have a limited number of plugs and tables, so show up early to claim a good spot for you and your client to talk.
Since you will be away from your office, make sure to plan before heading out the door! Bring a notepad and pen, your laptop and charger, print out any paperwork you may want your client to have such as an invoice, contract or project outline. Think about the files you may need to open while you’re meeting and have them copied to your desktop for easy access. If there are websites you’ll be looking at with your client, have those bookmarked so you are not fumbling through your browser history trying to find that link you planned to share with them!
Let Them Know Who You Are
In this day and age, a kick-off meeting is often times my first face-to-face meeting with a new client. So much communication is done through email and phone, that your new client might not even know who you are when they show up. Avoid this awkward guessing game and give them something to look for “I’ll have on a red scarf” or if you have a photo of yourself online, point them to it!
Don’t be one of those cafe dwellers who sets up shop for the entire day while never buying so much as a cup of drip. Remember that you are in a place of business, order something and tip generously! Some coffee shops have posted policies on extended visitors (especially during lunch time), if you see a sign asking “computer users, please limit your visit to 2 hours” respect this, even if no one is enforcing it or if you notice others ignoring it.
End on a Good Note
No matter where you are meeting, always wrap things up right! Offer your client your business card and make sure they know when to expect your next point of contact will be. Shake their hand and thank them for their time. On your way out, make sure you haven’t forgotten anything (including busing your table!) Lastly, give your Barista a friendly smile and say goodbye and thank you before you go.
Do you ever have client meetings at your favorite coffee shop? Share any tips you may have or the best place for meet-ups in your city!
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Be careful not to arrive wayyyy to early and drink wayyyyy to much coffee. I did that once and was freaking wired! hahah
Wow, Great article!
Maybe you can submit this to http://workawesome.com/
@Niki: Haha! Good top! Being around someone hyped up on caffeine when you yourself are NOT is like being sober around a drunk person… amusing, but also a little uncomfortable. ;)
@Pieter That looks like a really cool site, thanks or sharing — unfortunately looks like they do not accept content if it’s been published already, so i’d be a miss for this one — but I’ll keep them in mind!
Great article, I myself want to hold face to face meetings. I often here it is more advantageous to be personal over being formal. A business card would be good to have too. Today I went to the doctor and just randomly thought “What if I had a business card I could give to my doctor while we talk?” Although I really want to be on top of my game before I start with the cards, nice tips!
I’m more of a laid back person and while I do keep it “professional” with my clients, I also am very much MYSELF and i think they appreciate that authenticity. I don’t brand myself as a power suit kind of a designer, so my clients know what they’re getting when we do a coffee shop meet up. :) …I save all my polish for design work. LOL
Remember to put your phone on silent. I always seem to get calls right as I’m shaking the clients hand on our first meeting.
@deskofken, good one! I think if you’re working in a coffee shop at all it’s good etiquette to have the phone on vibrate so that it’s sudden ringing doesn’t startle anyone (not something you want to happen in a room full of steaming hot beverages) LOL.
The coffee shop meeting was my main motivation for getting office space. Now if I could only get a barista in my office.
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