Meeting Confidence – Making Your First Impression Count

First Impression

As a freelancer you have no brand or corporate reputation to fall back on, it’s all down to you. Making a good first impression is even more important. As ever, a little thought and preparation can make a huge impact on the impression you make.

Confidence is key

If you don’t have confidence in yourself why would anyone else. You need to be confident and relaxed when you meet a client. This isn’t something that you can change overnight but a few things can make a bit difference to the impression that you make.

Confident people move and speak at a measured pace. You need to learn to slow down. If you’re nervous this will feel unnatural as you’ll want to rush so if it’s feeling unnatural you’re probably getting it right!

Your posture can also make a huge difference. Sit up straight and don’t hunch, and remember to smile. Smiling makes a huge difference, far more than most people believe.

If you’re looking for more tips on this, this article on assertiveness will help.

Dress to impress

How you dress may vary depending on your line of work, who the client is, and where you are meeting.  As a rule of thumb, what you wear to a meeting when you are a freelancer should be smart, but in most circumstances, not business formal.  If you are unsure, err on the side of overdressed / formal.

Don’t overthink this. Yes dressing appropriately will help, no it probably won’t make a huge difference. The client will be looking to find out more about you, your skills and your behaviour during the meeting.  If you impress them with what you say and what you’ve done, your wardrobe probably won’t be an issue whatever you’re wearing (within reason!).

Be on time

Make sure you arrive on time.  You should aim to be no more than 10 minutes early, and certainly not late. If you are travelling a distance to attend the meeting, you should aim to be in the area before this, in case of delays to your journey.  Just be mindful about what you do with any spare time you may have, as you won’t make a great first impression if you arrive looking hot and sweaty having been for a long walk, or smelling of the nearest fast food restaurant.

Be prepared for small talk, and make the most of it

Once you arrive, you will probably find yourself involved in a bit of small talk, perhaps while you wait for others to arrive, or while refreshments are being made.  This is your opportunity to start building a relationship so don’t waste it. This is an opportunity to show that you are a confident, positive person and will be fun to work with.  If the weather is bad don’t dwell on it or moan about it, chat about something else instead. If the client brings up the bad weather make light of it and move on, don’t dwell on it. Being positive makes a good first impression, and shows the client that you have a confident ‘can do’ attitude.

Listen to the client

Once you get down to business, the client is likely to do some talking about both their company and requirements.  Listen to what they have to say and take plenty of notes, as there will be a time for questions later.  If you keep asking questions throughout, it will not only interrupt their train of thought, it may lead to the conclusion that you have not done any research before the meeting.

Organise your portfolio

The client may be meeting with several freelancers, so it is important to demonstrate why they should pick you.  Just as those going for job interviews are told to tailor their CV, as a freelancer, it is important to tailor your examples.  This will show the client that you have done the research beforehand, and have the necessary skillset to do the task required.  If you have prepared and rehearsed some relevant examples, it is much easier to come across as confident and knowledgeable than it is if you are trying to recall past projects as you go along.  If you are showing your portfolio, make sure that everything you need is in a logical order so that you can quickly access any examples you want to show.  You can quickly become flustered if you can’t find what you are looking for, which can throw you off for the rest of the meeting.

Rehearse answers to obvious questions

Once you have finished pitching to the client, it will be their turn to ask you questions.  You should respond to these in a concise way, without looking as if you need to think too much about your answer.  If you ramble on, or are hesitant to answer straight forward questions, the client is likely to question how well you know your stuff.  Questions about experience and previous projects are almost certainly going to be asked, so make sure you have some well-rehearsed answers ready for them.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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