One of the seven core values of Grace Communications is to become part of each client’s team. We know how important that is to form relationships that will last. We love growing with our clients and helping each other succeed. One of the key ingredients to the successful, long-term client relationships that we build is our meetings. We know that these are the backbone of connecting and communicating.

“Without productive, creative, and engaging meetings, clients will not be satisfied or successful.” – Emily Green

Throughout the years we’ve learned a few things about what works…and doesn’t work when it comes to client meetings. Let’s start with the positives. Here are the top 3 “DOS” for successfully leading a client meeting.

  1. Always look professional for in-person and virtual meetings that have a visual component. This is not about perfection or looking red-carpet-ready. It’s about respect, showing that you care, and building trust. When you take the time to look put together you are saying nonverbally that this meeting is important to you and that you took the time to put yourself together so you can visually represent yourself in a branded way. Your professional image is also one of the first things clients see about you. If you are in a field where you are representing your client’s image…your visual brand needs to be buttoned up. Otherwise…why should they trust their image with you when you can’t represent yourself well?
  2. Engaging in small talk and knowing personal things about clients is what sets the tone of a meeting. Small talk isn’t just for southern pleasantries. It’s a way to acknowledge that you care about the people you are talking to and an opportunity to learn more things about your clients that can strengthen your professional bond. It is also a way to instantly set a positive tone for the meeting. We strive to always start each meeting with our clients with positive news. Whether that is sharing some fun news that is relevant to the client or celebrating a client’s new baby…we make sure that we don’t jump right into the agenda. We want every meeting to feel like something that is uplifting to the clients…even if we have to share things that are not always positive.
  3. Being prepared and guiding the conversation is paramount to a successful meeting. We have all been in meetings that are chaotic and those are not fun. Meetings with no structure quickly can turn into a free-for-all mess that can spiral out of control. It’s important as the leader of meetings that we are always prepared ahead of time and establish a clear agenda with goals for every meeting. We ensure that the agenda is sent out ahead of every meeting that we lead to all parties invited. This allows everyone to have their chance to share and get creative in an organized, productive manner.

Unlike the three “DOS” above we also have three “DON’TS” that we highly recommend not doing if you are leading a meeting.

  1. Looking unprofessional and not being prepared is never a good combination. Your image can make or break you with clients. Showing up to a meeting looking like you rolled out of bed is a quick way to instantly communicate that you do not care about this meeting. Most clients do not expect perfection or even want that. It can make them feel bad if you look “too fancy” but they do want you to look like you are well put together. It’s their business that they are trusting you to care about and if you don’t look like you care about yourself…then why should they trust that you’d care about them?
  2. When you act rushed and like you don’t care it shows. Let’s be honest. Sometimes we are in a hurry. Many times we are so rushed that we don’t know how we will possibly accomplish everything on our to-do list. These overwhelming days can sometimes coincide with scheduled client meetings that cannot be rescheduled. It’s paramount to not show that to clients. They are paying for your time and undivided attention. We have found that being organized, writing things down that are causing stress, and taking 5 minutes before each call to get “in the client zone” are sometimes all it takes to get out of the frenzied zone and into the friendly zone that clients expect and deserve.
  3. Client meetings are not about YOU. Let’s say that in another way. When you are leading a client meeting it needs to be about the client. It cannot be about your needs, wants, and feelings. To truly create amazing client relationships it is about leading and guiding in a way that allows the client to shine and feel seen, heard, and acknowledged for the amazing business that they’ve built. What is a surefire way to shut down a client is when leaders of meetings make their own personal aspirations, feelings, and/or issues the focus. While we wholeheartedly believe sharing personal things can be good when it adds to the professional relationship, we do not agree with it when it is only self-serving.

Leading client meetings is definitely an art form. It requires a balance of professionalism and yet still personal, charming with a dash of analytics, and guiding without being overbearing. At Grace Communications we are constantly striving to nurture our client relationships by fine-tuning how we lead each meeting. As with everything else we do, we hope to lead each meeting with grace, integrity, and a focus on helping our clients grow both financially and philanthropically.