Breaking the unwritten rules of career professionalism can make or break your reputation. Have no fear, we’ve compiled a list of 10 business etiquette tips to help you get the most out of your client meetings.
Perhaps you dread those meetings where you feel like you always have to be “on”. Or maybe you love the prospect of meeting new potential clients and enjoy showing your best self. Regardless of your feelings about first business dates, you have to conduct yourself in a way that will leave a lasting (good) impression. Seventy percent of people make a decision about you based off of your first impression.
So, what’s acceptable and what isn’t during an initial client meeting? Can you check your phone? Who should be asking all of the questions?
Business Etiquette Tips for Your Next Client Meeting
1. Get Dressed
Yes, your appearance matters. You don’t have to step into the room looking like Giselle or Brad Pitt, but you do need to look put together, regardless of your wardrobe budget. There are many places with budget-friendly prices for a fantastic professional wardrobe.
There’s no better way to master the art of business etiquette than rolling into your client meeting looking fresh, well-dressed, and sufficiently awake (caffeinated). Your outward professional appearance will speak volumes about you as a professional.
Believe it or not, your clothing will affect your success.
2. Be on Time for Your Client Meeting
Few things will make you look as unprofessional as showing up late will. It makes you look sloppy, unprepared and unorganized. Furthermore, it may make a client wonder about your time management skills.
Being on time for a client meeting (if not 10 minutes early) speaks volumes about your business etiquette. It shows how much you care about your work and your client and shows them they are your priority. It also shows them that you have a tight schedule, you are busy, and actively engaged.
3. Speak in Turn
Never, ever interrupt a client while they are speaking. That tells them that you are so deep in your thought process that you aren’t even hearing them. There will be a few instances in large conferences or in meetings where you might need to interrupt, but as a general rule let someone finish their thoughts.
You don’t want to be interrupted when it’s your time to speak either. A client meeting should be a polite conversation between two people expressing needs, services, wants, and goals.
4. No Phone
Albeit difficult, put your phone away during meetings. Browsing your phone while speaking to other people is rude and careless. It tells them your mind is elsewhere and that they aren’t the focus of your attention.
A client needs to feel like a V.I.P. if you want to get hired by them. The last thing you want to appear is too busy to listen to them, let alone take on their workload. Keep your phone on vibrate and in your pocket.
5. Coffee Break
If you want to drink something in your meeting, make sure it’s coffee. Everything else may seem a little unprofessional. Coffee is a staple of the business world.
Coffee in hand is a sign of a goer, a successful business person, and someone who needs the boost to get all of their many business ventures satisfied. Drinking can make noises and be a little off-putting in general, so take small sips once in a while.
6. Mama Says Sit Up
Simply sit up. Straighten your back, and have good posture during your client meeting. If you need to adjust your chair to get comfortable or to be at equal height with your client, do so.
Much like the proper business etiquette behind professional dress code, slouching will give an unkempt and sloppy appearance. Sitting up gives you poise, confidence, and a nice silhouette. Do as you learned when you were a kid, and sit nice and tall.
7. Speak Up
When it’s your time, speak with volume and confidence. People who speak in whisper tones are perceived as weak and incapable. Do not let your tone affect your professionalism.
If you have every other duck in a row professionally but can’t bring a little prowess to your speaking voice, you might have a problem. All you have to do is speak with a little volume and gumption.
When it’s your turn, be heard. You didn’t do all that studying and research in your field to lose a client over perceived notions about your lack of strength as a professional.
8. Mission Possible
A massive part of showing a client that you are ready and willing to work for them is by having a good strong agenda. You need to stay on track so you don’t get sidelined into caveats that don’t matter to the end goal.
If you do get off track, have a few tactics in your back pocket to use as a strong facilitator to get you back where you need to be in the conversation. The art of conversation is a complex one. Have a plan, have an agenda, and stick to it.
9. Be Brave
Although it may seem like the opposite of proper business etiquette, asking hard questions that no one else wants to ask will make your client feel confident that you are willing to do what it takes to get the information you need. Don’t wait until the end to ask them all at once, either.
Ask your questions in a polite and timely manner. Be brave, be bold, and be courteous. Ask your client the questions that are detail oriented that perhaps other people skim over.
10. Clean Up
Push in your chair at the end of your meeting. Grab your coffee cup. Throw away any napkins used. This is not only proper business etiquette, but it will speak volumes about you as a person and as a professional.
Simply cleaning up after yourself and leaving your setting the way you found it shows respect and responsibility.
The only way to get a schedule full of great meetings with clients is by making them happen. Be strong and tell your potential clients that you at least deserve a meeting with you before making their decision
Meetings are the way to success. You can’t get business without being able to showcase why you are the best option for the job. Follow these ten tips and you’ll be sure to impress your next client.
For more tips, tricks, and advice on how to get a packed schedule, contact us for a free demo.