When meeting a client for the first time, it's ideal if you can be the one to set the meeting place. Whether it's in a quiet café you know well or a conference room in the office that's perfect for a presentation, you have the upper hand if you control the environment. Consider the impression you want to make when choosing the location.
From the offset, make sure the client feels comfortable. Offer them a firm handshake (or fist/elbow bump in a post Covid world), smile and make eye contact. If it's at the office, have water, tea or coffee prepared for them. Presenting yourself as friendly and prepared will give them confidence in you and your company.
Do research on the client ahead of time so you'll have an idea of their needs and what services you'll be able to provide for them. Prepare a presentation specifically tailored to them and be ready with answers to some questions they'll likely ask. Demonstrate your knowledge of their business with examples.
Be respectful both of your company's and their company's time. Start the meeting on time and stick to a schedule. Don't spend too much time boasting about your business's achievements and past projects that aren't directly related to the potential client. If it becomes clear that a partnership between you and this client is not a good fit, be honest about that. If both parties have different expectations, it's better to realise it quickly rather than waste time over multiple meetings.
After the meeting, make the next steps clear. If you have a client welcome package or offer package, give this to them to look over and mention that you'll be following up. If you've already agreed to work together, set up a time for the next meeting or follow-up so both parties understand the way forward.
You set the meeting place
Make the client feel comfortable
Do research ahead of time
Be respectful of everyone's time
Be clear about the next steps