If you are a beginning creative entrepreneur or freelancer, you will inevitably have face-to-face (or video call) meetings with prospective clients or customers. I’m talking about meetings or calls with people who are “warm leads”, meaning they already know about you and have some degree of interest in hiring you or buying from you.
Although your portfolio & work examples might be extraordinary and speak for themselves, there are a handful of obvious (yet often overlooked) things you can do before you meet to set yourself up for success.
Here are five ones you can do today to set you meeting up for maximum success:
- Connect on LinkedIn. Before you meet with you prospect, add them to your LinkedIn network. (Don’t have a LinkedIn account? Well, stop reading and go set one up!) Adding someone to your LinkedIn network will establish a bit of familiarity between you and your prospect and get you a few steps closer relationally. He or she will know what you look like, can view your educational info, read your bio, and more. This might even lead to some small talk opportunities.
- Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles. Potential clients will look you up on social media to find out more about you, especially if they are very interested and considering hiring you. Take some time to clean up your social media profiles to ensure you aren’t sending the wrong message or presenting yourself in an unprofessional or unlikeable manor. If you don’t want to purge your less-than-professional photos, posts and other content, ensure you have strict privacy settings for those accounts you want to be private and only make public the accounts you would be comfortable showing to prospective clients (or your grandmother).
- Research the Person or Company. This is an easy step that so many people fail to do. Take some time (around 30 minutes or so) and really research the person or the company that you are meeting with. In a sales meeting, it’s more important to be interested than to appear interesting. Do your homework, learn as much as you can, and show up to the meeting incredibly interested to learn more. This will also inform the questions your prepare (see #5).
- Buy a physical notebook. When you meet, it’s critical to have a physical notebook to take notes in. “Well, what about taking notes on an iPhone?” you’re thinking. My advice is to always take notes during a sales meeting in a physical notebook. This is an easy way to signal to the person you’re meeting with that you are paying attention and ignoring all other distractions. It shows that you are 100% engaged. If you take notes on an iPhone or Computer, you will get buzzed, dinged, vibrated, etc. and inevitably lose focus on the meeting. Buy a notebook and use it.
- Write down 5 questions to ask. Speaking of notebooks, write down five questions you can ask during your meeting. Literally write them out on the left side of your notebook spread and use the right side for taking notes. The prospect will probably see your questions you’ve prepared (you can even acknowledge that you prepared questions) and see that you’ve prepared and done your homework. They will be impressed, and you can use the questions to guide the conversation (or ask during an awkward quiet moment).
- Send a follow-up text or email the day or morning before your meeting. This is huge. A few hours before your meeting (or the night before), send a simpple text or email to confirm the meeting and share how excited you are to meet. This let’s your prospect know that you (a) haven’t forgotten about it and (b) are organized and on top of your calendar and (c) are communicative…all good things to signal before trying to book a new client.
- Arrive early. Don’t show up late. Ever. Showing up late communicates several horrible things, such as (a) I didn’t care enough to plan ahead and (b) I don’t value your time and (c) I will probably be late with your project. Arrive early, sit in your car or the waiting room, and prepare for your meeting.
For creative professionals, we want the quality of our work to stand for itself and speak for itself. Unfortunately, a lot more goes into shaping a potential client or buyer’s decision. If you find yourself with a sales meeting on the calendar or are meeting a prospective client for coffee, make sure you do these seven simple things beforehand.