The all important first meeting with potential clients not only determines whether you win the business, but will sets the pace and tone for the rest of the project.
Be prepared: Outline the format of the meeting at the very start: what do you want to get out of the meeting, what do you wish to discuss. This ensures you are much more likely to accomplish all of your objectives. Using a survey tool like Identistyler, to learn client's style and needs, before the first meeting will enable you to really fine tune the meeting and to know which of your previous works to highlight, any areas of knowledge you may to brush up on beforehand.
Listen and observe: Ultimately this meeting is an information gathering exercise – you need a thorough understanding of the scope of the project and your clients' objectives, style and needs. Be sure to have thorough checklists so you don’t miss anything. Much of this information gathering can be simplified by using a survey or questionnaire prior to the first meeting. Even after the meeting, surveys can help consolidate all the information and ensure that nothing was left out.
Budget and Schedule: While we definitely don’t recommend going into budget specifics in the first meeting, you need a general idea. Some prefer to ask this question face to face, others include it in their client survey and can then discuss in more detail with the client as needed. If you have an idea of budget and timescales beforehand, then you can use the initial meeting to determine if you are facing simple obstacles that can be overcome, or whether this is actually a client you would prefer not to work with.
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