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Thread: first real meeting with client...advice needed

  1. #1
    One day older, one day wiser rafiki55's Avatar
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    Some details before my questions...
    I'm going to meet with a local food bank who needs a new website next week. I emailed them and now the board wants to meet me to discuss the site. I'll be doing the site for free and hopefully I'll get some good exposure seeing as the food bank is fairly active in the community. By the way, I'm 17, if that makes any difference.

    Now I have some questions as to this meeting.
    -What should I wear? Tie?
    -What do I need to bring? I don't have a laptop.
    -Do I bring previous works, printed out?
    -What do I need to say?

    Any other advice or tips are appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,
    Robert

  2. #2
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    -What should I wear? Tie?
    Dunno, never wear a tie... I don't care who you are meeting
    freakin CEO of Intell for all I care, do not wear a tie. You'd be breaking out of their stereo type of some slang speaking quake playing lifeless geek, so dress down and fulfill their expectations


    -What do I need to bring? I don't have a laptop.
    Laptop, shmaptop, they are just an annoyance as you'd need to take the time to set it up anyway. I never bring a laptop and that's never been a point any client has ever brought up. I just bring my clipboard, all nice and lo-fi.
    It's one of those engineering clipboards with the compartment on the bottom, made of aluminum, looks cool and it gives me a bottomless pit to toss the 20 or so biz cards they always want to slam me with.

    ...oh occasionally I do make notes in it, but 9 times out of ten I just toss their biz cards into the compartment below the notepad and keep it on my lap with a pen nearby, just in case I might need it.



    -Do I bring previous works, printed out?
    Are you going to do their bizcards too?
    Unless you are going to provide graphics services that require presstime why bother?
    And besides, good prints co$t... atleast if you want the prints to look pretty. You should already have something online and should have already directed them to whatever that is via email.



    -What do I need to say?
    Now that's up to you. If I were you, I'd be the first to start talking, get them warmed up and show you can provide direction and focus. The exact words? That's too personal to your situation for me to even want to guess.

    Hope that helps





  3. #3
    Part Time Goth TianaKaeSha's Avatar
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    Originally posted by rafiki55

    -What should I wear? Tie?
    If you do not wear a tie, at least wear smart slacks and a shirt. You are 17 so you do not want to look like a 32 year old with a degree, but at least dress like a professional and show that you are serious about them and their project. you want to make an influence.


    -What do I need to bring? I don't have a laptop.
    If you do not have a laptop, that is cool, but do not go there with just a pen behind your ear. show them that you are serious by turning up with some rough sketches of what you plan to do for them, pros and cons about doing work a certain way. Don't walk in there blind...


    -Do I bring previous works, printed out?
    It is always good to go in there with some previous work to show off. There is no need to take the biggest looking black folio around, just a small document holder. Include a resume at the front or back so that anyone flicking through the folio can read it if they wish. If you want to only do webdesign - show them some screenshots of websites you have done. Take in anything that proves you are creative.


    -What do I need to say?
    be yourself. If you go in there making stuff up you are going to come across fake and the last thing they would want is someone who is not real. If you do not know an answer to a question.. dont waffle on. Change the subject or say you do not know. Tell them what you expect to get out of this, and tell them what you think they will get out of it. Push the fact that they will benefit by getting you to do the gig - sell yourself.



    Most of all... just be natural. Prepare yourself for what will go on.

    let us know how it goes!

  4. #4
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    My piece?

    No tie. Just like lb said.

    Laptop - well, we just got razzed the other day for proposing a new (redone) site to a current cusomtomer and not having a working demo. OK, the guys's a d**k, and right now, no one (and I mean not even my mother) wants to do new webwork - all jittery about the upcoming elections here - but still, if you have enough details to throw together a very general piece, print it, then knock them/yourself out.

    What to say - describe your plans - how will it relate to the poeple who want to see the site, format, delivery, availiability etc.

    and BTW - good luck.

  5. #5
    has anyone got a link to a survey to people's responses on first client interview impressions? i mean how the client feels about their looks, their expectations etc etc..

    anyways if i were a client, i wouldn't really care about their looks, i'd see them by the way they speak. if they were too shy, there would be some problems, but if they speak clearly, that would probably bee a good choice.

    so speak clear, and be friendly, and get to the point

  6. #6
    just be confident, and don't be a car salesman. Having hired freelancers in the past, I'd say the thing I hate the most is sitting through a nervous jittery salespitch. Just be yourself. The clients are people, just like you. They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you. Just have a normal conversation, same as you would with anyone else.

    Having also been a freelancer in the past, I can tell you that all of that is much easier said than done. You'll be nervous, you'll want to sell your abilities, you'll want to impress them. Just try to come across as confident and everything will be fine.

    BTW, I might wear a tie. Where do you live? In some parts of the country it doesn't matter if you wear a tie. In some it does. How did you get this gig? If you got it on your own merits, with your own marketing efforts, then wear a tie if you like, or don't. If you got this because a parent is on the board of directors, or through a family friend or what have you, then I would say that you should go out of your way to look professional. My first freelance gig I got through my dad when I was about your age. He told me that I should act as though I were running a Fortune 500, and that the client were one as well.

    Ultimately, all that matters is what you say, not what you wear. Be confident, be yourself, you'll do fine.

    Just my two cents, of course. Let us know how it goes.

  7. #7
    One day older, one day wiser rafiki55's Avatar
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    Well, I live near Vancouver, BC Canada (in a small suburb). I got the job on my own merit...I'm thinking that I won't wear a tie, unless someone has some strong objections. I'll probably wear dress pants and a nice collared shirt.

    Thanks for all the advice so far...anyone care to give some more? Oh one more question...so what do I definitely need to bring? Business cards...what else?

    THANKS!
    Robert

  8. #8
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    Hey you got it, good going.

    If you have a bizcard, bring it, if you don't have one then don't sweat it.

    All I'd bring is my trusty clipboard.
    I suggest everyone gets one
    Handy thing... metal cover with the clipboard underneath which lifts up to expose the inner compartment.
    Why do I rave about this damn thing so much?
    Well, because it requires no setup, wont run out of batteries and you wont be sitting there trying to type
    or use a stylus for note keeping. And notes are what you want to have so you keep track of the issues discussed.
    Also, you can store any CD's/Floppies and printed docs they may give you in the compartment so you keep it all organized and on hand.

    But best of all?
    When you need to illustrate a quick idea during a meeting, you have paper and a pen right there and ready to go.
    Passing the sketch around is made more solid having it attached to a firm object for display.

    ...plus you just look damn authoritative when you're sitting there jotting things down on a big hunk of metal
    Oh, and it makes a great conversation piece, my clipboard has been brought up a couple times, always with a "that thing looks neat" reaction, and extra points are always good.

    Palm Pilots and laptops may be nice, but nothing is as functional and as portable as the lo-fi clipboard.
    So go out to a good office supply store and plop down $30 and get one.


  9. #9
    Senior Member kidpablo's Avatar
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    Don't 'dress down' - you'll look like an arty prick who knows nothing about business. Dress smart, look and act professional. At the end of the day, you're designing something that you hope will increase their market share, not something that looks 'cool' or 'arty'.

    Be friendly, confident and ask lots of questions. And your most important tool is....a notebook!

    Good luck.

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by kidpablo
    Don't 'dress down' - you'll look like an arty prick who knows nothing about business. Dress smart, look and act professional. At the end of the day, you're designing something that you hope will increase their market share, not something that looks 'cool' or 'arty'.

    Be friendly, confident and ask lots of questions. And your most important tool is....a notebook!

    Good luck.
    Such perceptions.
    I'm laughing at what you said about dressing down and what not (though true, but oh so wrong)

    I was at a client meeting a couple months ago and wearing some sneakers I picked up on a quick flight up to Seattle, the CTO of the company (a Russian) was looking down at the tennis shoes I was wearing with this real funny look on his face, so I said "ya, they're Italian" and he said "I know." and proceeded to ask me where I got them... he wasn't happy to know he'd have to fly out of town to get them where I did.

    But then again, for me dressing down means I don't look like an office grunt, but I look sharp none the less.
    [Edited by l0ungeb0y on 08-23-2002 at 12:07 PM]

  11. #11
    Senior Member kidpablo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by l0ungeb0y
    Originally posted by kidpablo
    Don't 'dress down' - you'll look like an arty prick who knows nothing about business. Dress smart, look and act professional. At the end of the day, you're designing something that you hope will increase their market share, not something that looks 'cool' or 'arty'.

    Be friendly, confident and ask lots of questions. And your most important tool is....a notebook!

    Good luck.
    Such perceptions.
    I'm laughing at what you said about dressing down and what not (though true, but oh so wrong)

    I was at a client meeting a couple months ago and wearing some sneakers I picked up on a quick flight up to Seattle, the CTO of the company (a Russian) was looking down at the tennis shoes I was wearing with this real funny look on his face, so I said "ya, they're Italian" and he said "I know." and proceeded to ask me where I got them... he wasn't happy to know he'd have to fly out of town to get them where I did.

    But then again, for me dressing down means I don't look like an office grunt, but I look sharp none the less.
    [Edited by l0ungeb0y on 08-23-2002 at 12:07 PM]
    Yeah, I apologise. I made a pretty stupid comment. I guess it just depends on what your definitions of 'dressing up' and 'dressing down' are.

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by kidpablo


    Yeah, I apologise. I made a pretty stupid comment. I guess it just depends on what your definitions of 'dressing up' and 'dressing down' are.
    No need for an apology there.
    I just thought it was funny.
    But perceptions are easily swayed,
    and that's what I thought was funny.
    I don't think anyone would walk into a client meeting
    dressed for couch-potato action.

    ...unless of course your a senior sysadmin, then I think it's expected

  13. #13
    One day older, one day wiser rafiki55's Avatar
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    Small Update:
    We'll I haven't gone to the meeting yet, b/c it hasn't been setup yet. The lady wanting the website gave me an email to phone her and I've been phoning Friday, Monday and today, but she's never there. I've left a message on her voice mail...so hopefully the meeting will get setup soon. Thanks for all the advice!

    Note: I picked up a nice clip board. I saw the metal ones that l0ungeb0y was talking about...but too bad they started at $35 and that's just for a small one! A little too pricey for a clipboard for me ...maybe I'll get one after a few jobs.

    Anymore advice?

    THANKS!!

  14. #14
    ********* mentuat's Avatar
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    i vote you go naked - just think of the impact (only if it's warm out though...)

  15. #15
    One day older, one day wiser rafiki55's Avatar
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    okay so I just got back from the meeting and it went pretty well!

    I wore dress pants, black shoes, a dress shirt with no tie and one button undone. I think it worked quite well. I ended up not bring much but a clipboard with some paper and business cards.

    The meeting went good, except I was 4 mins late :O That wasn't good. She sounded very enthusiastic and mentioned that this would probably lead to more paid jobs if I did a good job on their site. All in all I got the impression it went well

    Now I have some questions:

    1. I mentioned that I was still in high school at the end of the meeting. Was this a mistake? Was it irrlevant? Should I have brought it up?

    2. At the end she asked if I had any questions for her...my response was "umm...ermm....Nope, I don't think so." Was that the wrong response?

    3. She's going to phone me in 2 weeks after she meets with the board memebers.

    4. Now what do I do? Just wait for her to call?

    Thanks all!! I would be lost without this board.


  16. #16
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Sounds like it went pretty well rafiki - I think that you have to wait out the 2 weeks though, before trying to get back in contact with them. She could be looking at other companies, answering personal ads, whatever - she's claimed those two weeks as her own (unfortunately).

    No worries - go and find another warm person to talk to, so if this one doesn't turn out, you still have some things on the go. You might not (as a designer) have any current work sometimes, but it's when you don't even have any leads that things start to get desperate.

    (Perhaps you should leave out the high school info, unless they specifically ask, and then answer 'Would you believe I'm still in HS?')

  17. #17
    One day older, one day wiser rafiki55's Avatar
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    Originally posted by hurricaneone
    (Perhaps you should leave out the high school info, unless they specifically ask, and then answer 'Would you believe I'm still in HS?')
    hmm see I didn't know...but my thinking was that I might as well tell her because she was going to find out soon or later, so I thought it might be good to be upfront. I didn't want to get started and then have her change her mind because I was too young or whatever.

    But she didn't seem worried at all that I was young, she seemed very enthusiastic. I think it went pretty well for a first meeting that was my first time

  18. #18
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Originally posted by rafiki55
    Originally posted by hurricaneone
    (Perhaps you should leave out the high school info, unless they specifically ask, and then answer 'Would you believe I'm still in HS?')
    hmm see I didn't know...but my thinking was that I might as well tell her because she was going to find out soon or later, so I thought it might be good to be upfront. I didn't want to get started and then have her change her mind because I was too young or whatever.

    But she didn't seem worried at all that I was young, she seemed very enthusiastic. I think it went pretty well for a first meeting that was my first time
    Sure, sure - if you're OK with letting go the HS info, then that's out in the open (like it's some Cold War military secret ). No, sounds like the meeting went well. I've had lots (in and out of the net world) and there's plenty of tips, but still no sure-fire ways of having a good meeting. Just gotta read the situation and hope that your proverbial foot stays out of the proverbial mouth.

    (just a figure of speech, that last bit).

  19. #19
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    Dude, wear a tox...

    lol lol lol

    ______listen_____
    if you don't look like you take care of your self... you're telling them you won't take care of them either...
    if you are suppost to promote technology, borrow a laptop... get a palm something... (impression is everything man, that's what they will remember about you). "People see you first before they hear about you."

    Bring them some nice work you've done in the past. You are suppost to make the client fall in love with what you do.. Show them something they could crave for them,,,,... Be smart don't just look smart.

    anyway... 17 years of age won't make a difference. " The difference in people is Wisdom not age".

    Do your best!!!!
    Carry yourself like the best.

    Take Care...
    try to get in touch with me AOL= cheskobpr


  20. #20
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    Originally posted by rafiki55
    Now I have some questions:

    1. I mentioned that I was still in high school at the end of the meeting. Was this a mistake? Was it irrlevant? Should I have brought it up?

    2. At the end she asked if I had any questions for her...my response was "umm...ermm....Nope, I don't think so." Was that the wrong response?

    3. She's going to phone me in 2 weeks after she meets with the board memebers.

    4. Now what do I do? Just wait for her to call?

    Thanks all!! I would be lost without this board.
    1- not a mistake at all, people are more indulgent with people that are still in the 'learning progress'... add the fact that you,re 17... (and it solve the tie problem )

    2- as long as YOU had questions while the meeting was in progress : fine

    3- great

    4- well, if she meets board members in 2 weeks, you have to wait... bot not more than 2 weeks... you're the one who has to do the follow-up... prepare yourself... think of what went good/wrong in the meeting, think of possible 'bugs' and prepare awnsers...
    __________________________________________________

    about the laptop thing... not needed at all... ( if you were car salesman, would you bring a car in the meeting room ?)

    important thing are (and you can make a career out of this, what ever field)
    1- be prepared, when you open your clipboard/paper, have notes taken on it already.
    2- show that you care for your client eg : wait till THEY bring the 'money subject' on the table, this way it shows you care about their project, not your pocket
    3- deliver what you're paid for, quality job, right on time.
    4- try to be 'nice to work with'
    __________________________________________________ ____

    meetings becomes really simple when you understand that : when you recieve a call (or meet in person) theres only 3 possibilities, clients call because they have 1- problem. 2- a need. 3- both 1 and 2...

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