Business relationships

Client meetings: What am I doing here?

- April 27, 2008 2 MIN READ

I’m as social as the next guy. I love people and I adore lounging around in cafés. One thing I hate, though, is putting on a posh shirt and slogging across town for client meetings only to have my time wasted. Frankly, I’m over it.

In my experience, face to face client meetings are not only time consuming, they often turn out to be pointless.

So what do I do when a potential client or business colleague tries to lure me away from my desk? I have developed one or two tactics that seem to work:

1. Get rid of the car

Extreme maybe, but since Jane and I have operated as a single car family I respect my time much more. When there’s no longer a set of wheels winking at you from out in the street, it’s less likely you’ll do the spur of the moment client meetings.

The realisation that I’ll be sitting on a bus for the best part of an hour to get anywhere certainly helps me question the value of the meeting.

2. Assign particular days/times for catch-ups

In addition to a bus service I’m lucky to have a ferry close to hand that can whisk me into the centre of town. Luckier still is that very few ferries actually run. This makes me schedule client meetings to very particular times and for quite tight durations.

I find this waterways-inflicted discipline most valuable.

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3. Always meet on the phone first

I’ve saved the best to last. By far the most effective thing I have ever done to avoid wasting time travelling to/from client meetings or indeed sitting through unproductive or unenjoyable meetings, is to ‘meet’ first on the phone. The world is full of people who want to bend our ears for hours. That doesn’t mean we’re obligated to listen.

By setting up a phone meeting and positioning it as a ‘quick natter’ allows me to explore topics and determine the relevance and importance of further discussion.

I have no doubt that as soon as I’ve finished having such fun building a business, I’ll be leisurely bending ears all over the place. In the meantime, best ignore me until the weekend when mine’s a long black.

I’d love to hear your views.