Managing meetings are an essential part of business, but for parents with small children they can be a challenge. The following tips will help business-owning mums and dads make it to meetings in one piece.
Organising childcare and trying to find suitable times around nursing babies and other commitments can often leave you wanting to avoid them altogether.
But while there are many people who are happy to work over the phone or on email, there will always be clients who want to do business face to face and potential clients who will want to meet you before they give you the go ahead. So here are five tips for managing meetings as a parent in business.
1. Have a set meeting day and confirm
Set aside one day a week or fortnight specifically for meetings. Finding suitable childcare for one day is a lot easier than spreading it over the week. The day before your meeting send the client a confirmation email in case they have forgotten or scheduled it incorrectly.
If you get no response, follow up with a call. There is nothing worse than organising your day around meetings and sourcing childcare, only to have the meetings cancelled or fall through at the last minute.
2. Be prepared
To prevent last-minute rushing, go through your notes, look up the address, program the contact details of the person you are meeting in your phone (in case you are delayed or need to contact them) and pack your briefcase or handbag the night before your meeting.
For your convenience, store your bag in the car or near the door; just make sure it is out of reach of little hands. I once had my meeting notes replaced with four Thomas the Tank Engine trains and my pen replaced with crayons.
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3. Have a back-up outfit ready
It always pays to have a back up outfit washed and ironed in case your original outfit becomes baby- or toddlerfied. Ladies, do yourself a favour and make sure the handbag and shoes you’ve picked match your back-up outfit as well. When you are rushing around last minute it can be easy to leave the house with a mismatched outfit on, believe me.
4. Arrive early and check yourself
Punctuality is important so always aim to arrive at least 15–30 minutes early, this way if you do encounter some traffic or an unexpected set back at home you’ll still arrive on time. As soon as you arrive, go to the bathroom and do one last check over yourself to make sure you’re presentable.
Having found a large baby vomit down the back of my suit two minutes before I had to speak at an event and cornflakes in my hair after a meeting was over, believe me when I say this is a vital step for a parent in business to maintain professionalism.
5. Gather your thoughts
To help you switch from your home-and-parent mindset into your business-owner mindset, take some time to gather your thoughts before your meeting. Focus on the outcome you want and go through the points you need to cover so they are fresh in your mind.
Do you have any tips for managing meetings as a parent in business?