How to Nail Your First Client Meeting
Preparing for your first meeting with a new client is a lot like getting ready for a first date. The pressure’s on to impress and create the framework for a strong, trustworthy, long-lasting relationship where both parties are happy. You have one shot to convince your client that you’re the right one (or only one) for the job. You’ll want to prove that you are capable, you can be trusted to meet deadlines, you’re relatable, you’re a problem solver, and you’re worth their money. No big deal, right? Don’t worry, we know this can be nerve-wracking, so we’ve rounded up tips for making an awesome first impression that will help you win your client over in the first meeting. You got this!
1. Act Human- It’s okay to not have your designer hat on from the get-go. Before you start talking budgets and deadlines, get to know your client as a person. Talk about where they live, where they went to college, or a local spot that you love. Basically, make small talk. This will establish a connection between the two of you as people that exist outside the roles of “client” and “designer”.
2. Set an Agenda- Think about your expectations for the meeting and how you envision the flow. What information do you need to get out of this conversation? Write a list before you get started and don’t be afraid to send it through to the client in advance so they know what to expect and what answers they should have ready. This will prove that you’re organized and like to think ahead.
3. Ask a Zillion Questions– There’s a lot you need to know, and the more info you can get up front, the better. It doesn’t need to be a formal interview, but try asking things like: How do you wish to use the space we are designing? How do you like to live? Are there any images/objects/ideas that have moved or inspired you for this space?
4. Be Professional, But Be Yourself– You want to look put together, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. Just wear something that you’re comfortable and confident in and you’ll radiate lady boss vibes. Remember, the most important thing is to make your client feel like you can handle what they need. On the professional note- don’t eat in a meeting (unless it’s a lunch meeting), don’t text or email, and don’t answer your phone (even better, just turn it off!).
5. Take Notes- Remember that the main goal of this meeting is to listen. The obvious reason for taking notes is to help you remember everything discussed during the meeting. But this can also be an opportunity to prove to the client that you value what they have to say and take their ideas seriously. Repeat certain words or phrases that the client uses in
order to hint to them that you’re on the same page.
6. Send a Summary– Post meeting, keep the conversation flowing by sending a summary of your takeaways from the meeting. This is a great opportunity to move the project forward by suggesting next steps.
Want more on client meetings? Find out how to choose the perfect meeting spot for your client.