Meet at their place of business
This is an excellent option for any freelancer. Instead of making your client leave work, drive across town, and meet you in some obscure coffee house, why not go the extra mile and meet at their place of business. Of course, you don’t want to offer this option from the angle that you’ve got nowhere else to go because you freelance from home. Tell them you’d be happy to meet with them at their place of business because you don’t want to interrupt their day. Make it an added benefit of working with you as a freelance designer. Try something like “Don’t worry about all the hassle of traveling to meet me, I’ll come right to you and bring everything that we need to move forward with this project.” They’ll be happy they don’t have to travel and you’ll be happy you have a place to meet.
Meet on the internet
I know, the above title sounds like I’m suggesting PerfectMatch.com or something, but I am not. Use technology during conference calls to your advantage if you have nowhere to meet your client in person. Use services like Skype (btw, my skype ID is prestondlee, naturally. Connect with me sometime), iChat, or some other online video chatting service. Similar to meeting with them at their place of business, make meeting online an added benefit. Emphasize the ease and cost reduction they will experience as they simply connect online instead of driving an hour to meet with you. Likewise, if your client doesn’t have any of these services or, heaven forbid, doesn’t have the internet, a nice chat on the phone could be the ticket to success for you.
Meet at the library or another public place
Most communities have libraries or other public places with rooms that can be rented for a minimal fee or even reserved for free. Try to find a location that offers rooms like these somewhere between your home and your client’s place of business. The nice thing about places like these is that they tend to be more quiet. If you can rent a room all to yourself, it will be easier to get things done than if you are somewhere where a lot is going on or there is a lot of noise. Also, these places usually have wireless internet, which is usually a must for meetings like these.
Meet at a restaurant
While I wouldn’t suggest you make this a habitual event, taking your client out to lunch can be a great opportunity to become better acquainted with them and their company. Consider taking your client out every few months or when you reach a celebratory milestone in the project. Of course, never do this if the situation is inappropriate (such as going to lunch alone with a client that is married), and always be sure to pick up the bill. They will appreciate the kind gesture and you can write it off as a business expense.
Meet out of doors
The last place I will suggest for meeting with your client when you design from home is to meet outside. Find a nice quiet public park, sit down at a table, and discuss the project you are working on. Being outside can be a great opportunity to help both you and your client be relaxed and extremely creative. Some of the best ideas I have ever had have come to me when I was outside, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying mother nature. Of course, too many outdoor meetings might seem unprofessional, but find a nice balance between this and other, indoor options.
Your turn to talk. Where do you meet with your clients?
Those are just a few simple suggestions I have when considering where to meet your design clients. Working from home is a wonderful thing and as you employ some of these strategies you can continue to work at home while maintaining a professional appearance with your clients. I would love to hear what suggestions you have on places to meet with your design clients. Where do you meet? Why? What places have I left off of the list? Add your suggestions in the comments and we’ll have a great time discussing them!