Monday, June 10, 2013

Arranging Meetings With Clients

One of the biggest challenges when working from home is how and where to hold meetings with current and prospective clients. This is compounded when caring for small children who typically and maintain a level of professionalism and organization? Here are some tips that can help.
cannot be informed about the need to stay quiet and out of the way for a little while. How can you meet with clients and give presentations when you're a work-at-home mom

  • Create a home office. If you have a spare room or corner of the living room which you can convert into an office complete with a desk and computer and maybe a white-board and some filing cabinets, this is the ideal solution. It should be an off-limits area for the kids and you can put your own professional touch on the decor. An extra chair pulled up to the desk or even a small extra table can work well for meetings. But not everyone has the room for this.
  • Use the dining room or kitchen for double-duty. Give yourself enough time before a meeting to clear off the dining room or kitchen table of all the usual items and replace them with a plain coloured table cloth or just the table itself. Add a stack of business cards, some pens and notepads and you're ready to go.
  • Find a quiet coffee shop with free WiFi. If you can arrange childcare and don't want to bring clients into your home, most cities have coffee shops with free wireless Internet service where you can arrange to meet the client for coffee and a meeting. Most clients who know that you work out of your home will be happy to use this option.
  • Go to your client's location. When possible, choose to hold important meetings at the client's office. This can be extra convenient for the client and may afford you extra flexibility for the time of the meeting. Prospective clients especially appreciate it when you come to them.
  • Schedule meetings during nap time, in the evenings or when your spouse is home to watch the children. If your child plays well by him or herself during certain times of the day, you might risk scheduling a meeting at that time. Always warn your client in advance that you have a child who may cause some minor interruptions. Most clients are understanding if you are upfront about the challenges you are working around.
  • Meet on the phone. I regularly keep less important meetings confined to the phone. With both myself and the client at our computers, I send a link by email to any screen-shots or URLs I may wish to refer to during our discussion. I take detailed notes and follow up on the meeting with a summary of what was discussed and both my and the client's action items.
  • Use online collaboration software. There are a number of online services which help you collaborate with clients. I use Vyew for desktop sharing and screen-cast presentations. Keep in mind that desktop sharing software sometimes compresses the colour palette of what you're showing so don't forget to send screen images to show the actual design scheme.
  • Keep your home tidy so you aren't scrambling when a meeting is needed on short notice. Take a hard look around your home to ensure that anything that could be offensive or inappropriate to your clients is put away.
  • Don't sell yourself short. Just because your business operates out of your home, doesn't mean that you should settle for charging less than you're worth or tolerate clients who habitually pay late. Behave and present yourself as the legitimate, professional organization that you are.

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