Knock their socks off: having the perfect first meeting with a potential design client

You go to a networking meeting, or the grocery store, or someone’s birthday party… Somehow you get talking about what you do and before you know it there’s a spark and they become a potential client. You exchange business cards and schedule a time to meet – perhaps in your office, or a lovely, quaint coffee shop down the street – and both of you are ecstatic that you’ve met each other, and excited to get started.

This article will show you exactly how to make that first meeting one that they will remember, and that will make you the obvious choice for whatever project they have going on.

Preparation is Key

As with a lot of things, with first (or any) prospect meetings preparation is pretty crucial. If you don’t have a clear focus, goal, and agenda in mind for the meeting, it’s difficult to get the concrete results you’re looking for accomplished.


Having the right mindset when going into a meeting can make all the difference between you feeling empowered and accomplished, and you feeling frustrated and angry, sometimes without really understanding why.

A good mindset to have in these meetings is that of a leader. You want to be the one leading and steering the conversation in the right direction, making sure you’re focusing on the areas that need to be addressed most, and staying away from areas that don’t need any focus at all. If you’re not careful, those can end up taking up the whole conversation.

Another benefit of exuding the qualities of a leader, is that your prospects will take you more seriously, and will be much more likely to treat you like the expert that you are. I could go on and on about the importance of being perceived as an expert, but in short, it leads to your clients having a lot of respect for you, not doubting your abilities, and paying you more for your services.

Want more? Have a listen.

Whether you’re feeling down or just need a little boost, here’s a trick that may help you tap into leadership qualities within yourself: affirmations before the meeting. Saying things like “I am powerful!” may seem a little strange (and even ridiculous) at first, but they can really help you center yourself, and feel much more comfortable and confident.

Here are some great affirmations you can try (or feel free to come up with ones that feel right for you):

“I am a leader.”
“I am confident.”
“I deserve success.”
“I deserve happiness.”
“I claim my space.”
“I am powerful.”


Setting a goal for the meeting is extremely important. When you have a goal in mind, both your conscious and subconscious efforts are naturally going to be focused on achieving that goal. Zeroing in on one or a few goals also helps relieve some of that mental clutter we sometimes feel when we get really excited and overwhelmed by potential opportunities.

One set of goals you can set are business goals. For example:

“I want Mr. X to start on a logo project with me.”
“I want Mr. X to recommend me to 5 of his contacts.”
“I want Mr. X to sign a contract with me at the end of the meeting.”

But, and this is very important, goals that are not necessarily focused directly on your business aren’t any less significant. For example:

“I want to feel like I was heard and respected.”
“I want to feel like a leader and inspire my prospect.”
“I want to feel like I did my best at this meeting.”

I find that the best thing is usually a combination between business and personal goals. For my business partner and I, our business is such a huge part of our lives that we use it for our personal development as well as supporting ourselves. So our business and personal goals tend to overlap.

If you’re the same way, it will be easy for you to apply these principles to your own routines in your business. But even if you completely separate your business life and your personal life, it will still really benefit you to have these two distinct sets of goals. It will significantly improve and focus your client meetings, and bring you much closer to getting your the results you really want from them.


Have a mental (or written, if you prefer) agenda for yourself that you’ve planned in advance. It keeps things going smoothly, and you know exactly the points you need to get through. So before you come to the meeting, sit and right down everything you want to cover and the things that are important for you to say.

If we take a logo project, for example, here’s a potential agenda I may come up with:

1. Introduction
2. Their needs in a logo
3. Acknowledging their needs
4. Explaining the importance of a logo
5. Letting them know what I can offer them
6. Call to action

When you have basic guidelines to follow, it’s easy not to get sidetracked and feel like the conversation is progressing effectively.

Wear a suit?

No, you don’t have to wear a suit. In fact, you don’t even have to wear a tie, as some may believe. You should wear whatever you’re most comfortable in. Now, I don’t mean your pajamas – though those may be quite comfortable. I mean clothes that make you feel good about yourself and express who you are; clothes that make you feel confident and successful… clothes that make you feel like a million bucks.

If somebody can’t accept that, or expects you to wear a suit, you don’t want them as your client in the first place. As long as you exude confidence, follow your passion, and enjoy what you’re doing, the right clients will naturally gravitate towards you and you’ll build great relationships with them with or without a suit and tie.

Tell a joke

Being yourself is not any less important than preparation and professionalism in your first meeting with a potential client. Think about it – if you need to choose between two services that are exactly the same, what will you base your decision on?

I know for me it’s the way the interaction makes me feel. People tend to go with things that make them feel better, more comfortable and at ease. So don’t be afraid to be yourself, show some character, and tell a joke or two if the situation calls for it.

Call to Action

A call to action tells someone what they’re supposed to do next, and encourages them to take that action. A meeting that doesn’t end in a call to action is like going to Amazon to buy a book you’ve been wanting to read for ages, and there’s no order button on the page.

Your call to action can often be directly related to your business goals. For example, if your goal for the meeting is to get a new client to sign on for a logo project, and the whole meeting was about that subject, at the end of it, you should to let them know your availability, how they can get started, when they can get started, etc., and set up a concrete next step with them to take after the meeting with you.

Jump in! Add a comment

What do you do to make your first client meetings as effective and successful as possible? Do you have any other great tips to share? Have you tried any of the tips above and they worked or didn’t work for you? Do you have any questions? I want to know! Share your thoughts and start a discussion by adding a comment.

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About Lou Levit

Lou (Louisa) Levit is the co-founder of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: a web development partner for freelancers, agencies, and companies in HTML and Wordpress coding. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her lovely husband and biz partner, David Tendrich.

More about Lou’s business: Reliable PSD is what happened when a group of designers got fed up with the available web development and design to code solutions out there…and created their own. Check them out, and see why Hundreds of agencies & freelancers love having Reliable as their partner for HTML & Wordpress coding.


  1. I love this post.

    Btw I’m interested in what to wear in the meeting. D’you think it’s OK to wear ‘Steve Jobs style’ clothes?

    • @A.F. Fauza, Thanks! Glad you like it! And yes, I think it’s ok to wear anything that makes you feel good about yourself…anything that makes you feel confident and successful. If those kind of clothes do it for you – I say sure! Go for it! The right kind of clients will gravitate towards you as long as you’re being yourself.

  2. just noticed something:
    “Jump in! Add a comment” = your article’s “Call to Action”

  3. @Roberto Civille Rodrigues, lol! Sure is!

  4. Thank you for your article!


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  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Lane and Zevran Arainai, Sorcha Bucklin. Sorcha Bucklin said: RT @mlane: Having the perfect first meeting with a potential design client […]


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