First impressions are everything. Boost your freelance career with these tips and tricks for that big kickoff meeting with a client.
Picture it: You're about to have your kickoff meeting with a client. Your heart beats with anticipation, your palms are a little sweaty — you're excited and apprehensive. And that’s completely understandable! After all, you're an Independent with the opportunity to create a memorable first impression and build a durable professional relationship.
But before you give in to all those nerves, rest assured: This comprehensive guide, steeped in know-how from seasoned experts, is your roadmap to success. It's an arsenal of tips, insights, and strategies, all designed to help you transform that initial "hello" into a fruitful connection and a long-lasting partnership.
What is a client meeting? 💻
A client meeting is a crucial touchpoint for Independents. It allows connecting with potential clients, discussing project requirements, and building trust. These interactions help establish solid foundations for successful working relationships while also enabling both parties to determine if they’re right for each other.
It’s a crucial step for the following reasons:
- It establishes trust
- It introduces you to the brand and the prospective client
- It communicates expectations and the client’s needs
- It weeds out unsuitable clients
- It seals the partnership
Throughout your freelance journey, you’ll likely encounter various types of client meetings:
- Discovery call. This initial meeting is all about exploring the client’s needs, challenges, and expectations. It’s the perfect time to ask questions and determine whether the project aligns with your skill set.
- Proposal call. This call takes place after the discovery phase. Here, you present a tailored solution to the client, outline the scope of work, and discuss your service pricing.
- Check-in call. Regular check-in calls ensure open communication throughout the project. They’re great for discussing progress, addressing concerns, and adjusting plans if needed.
8 tips to ensure a successful meeting ☎️
Navigating your first time speaking with a new client confidently provides an excellent base for a successful professional relationship. To boost your chances of a favorable outcome, keep these essential tips in mind:
Eliminate distractions ✨
Minimize background noise and set your devices to silent to create a focused, quiet atmosphere. This lets you fully concentrate on the conversation and helps you maintain a professional image. Ensure your environment is neat, tidy, and clutter-free.
Prepare in advance 📅
Thoroughly research the client’s background to understand their needs and anticipate potential questions or concerns. Familiarize yourself with their business, recent news, and any relevant trends to position yourself as an expert, and draft a meeting agenda. To make sure things go smoothly, consider the following:
- Confirm the details in advance. Solidify the meeting’s date, time zone, attendees, platform, and any other information needed to hop on the Zoom or phone call or meet the client in-person.
- Send or RSVP a calendar invite. Send a calendar invite to the client. If the client sends an invite, review the details and accept it as soon as possible.
- Watch the clock. Set aside 10 minutes before the call to eliminate disruptions, set up your wifi, prepare notes, and test your microphone and video camera.
- Compile questions. Have a list of questions ready to go — asking the right ones is key to controlling the flow of the call and discovering essential information.
Start with a chat 💬
Warm up for the nitty-gritty details with some simple discussion. Adjust your approach based on their communication style. With formal clients, be professional yet approachable. With casual clients, aim for a more conversational tone. Active listening, which we’ll explain below, and empathy are vital to establishing rapport.
Here are a few suggestions based on different clients:
- Friend or friend-of-a-friend. Talk about that connection if your referral was through a friend or colleague. It’s a solid way to warm up and build trust with the client.
- Single client or solopreneur. Solopreneurs are bootstrapping, which means running their businesses alone. Touch on their most common pain point — time — because chances are they want to gain more time by using your service.
- Teams and small/large businesses. Keep it short — the more people on a call, the more potential for delays. Find out who makes the decisions and learn about the hiring procedures. Don’t forget that forging successful client relationships hinges on genuinely listening to them.
Learn to transition from introductions to business discussions 👔
After exchanging pleasantries, smoothly and confidently shift the conversation to the main agenda. To navigate this transition seamlessly, be prepared with an outline of discussion points.
Ask questions and qualify 🙋
Ask discovery questions to understand the client’s wants and needs. Use open-ended inquiries to dig deeper into their struggles, successes, and preferences. For example, ask about their biggest challenges, past experiences, preferred communication methods, and availability. This demonstrates your genuine interest in their business and makes them feel more at ease. We also recommend anticipating common questions the client may ask in return.
Qualifying the client is equally important. Address any concerns or expectations you have, and ensure their requirements align with your capabilities. Inquire about their timeline, budget, and what they value in a freelancer. As your business grows and evolves, modify your questions. Feel free to ask about their past experiences with similar services, as it can provide valuable insights into their expectations.
Offer some friendly free advice 🤩
Highlight your value by giving the client helpful, knowledgeable suggestions related to their needs. This is a simple way to showcase your industry knowledge that also fosters goodwill and trust. It helps you get off on the right foot.
Practice active listening 👂
Active listening during a business meeting is crucial to understanding the client’s perspective. Give them ample space to express their thoughts and respond thoughtfully. Answer constructively and take notes to demonstrate your attentiveness and genuine interest.
Conclude it properly 🤝
Wrap things up by summarizing the main points discussed, reiterating your interest in the project, and outlining the next steps. Thank the client for their time, and either offer your services right away, send a follow-up email, or schedule a follow-up call.
Common mistakes to avoid when meeting with a client 👎
Independent professionals need to recognize and avoid common client meeting mistakes. Whether you’re just starting out or well into your freelance career, these missteps can prevent fruitful client relationships from developing.
Steer clear of these pitfalls:
- Trying too hard to be liked. Strike a balance between being personable and professional. Overdoing it comes across as insincere, undermining your credibility.
- Spending too much time on the wrong thing. Instead of discussing and promoting your products and services, focus on understanding and addressing the client’s challenges and goals. Demonstrate a genuine interest in their needs to establish a rapport.
- Being unaware of your body language. Nonverbal cues play a significant role in communication. Be mindful of your posture, eye contact, and gestures to convey confidence, attentiveness, and approachability during client meetings.
Embrace freelance success with Contra 🎉
Mastering the art of an effective client meeting is essential for professionals to establish long-lasting business relationships. By implementing the tips and tricks outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to making a lasting impression on potential employers.
Need a game plan for getting clients? Join the commission-free Contra platform. It’s designed to help you find and connect with ideal freelance clients, providing a seamless, intuitive, and efficient experience. With features like project collaboration, secure payments, a Portfolio tool, and recommendations, Contra empowers you to focus on what truly matters — scaling your freelance business.