Where to hold client meetings when you design from home

Being a freelance designer is a blast! You get to spend time working on your business and working in your business. You get to be the designer, the customer service representative, the accountant, the creative director, and more. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a freelance designer is meeting with clients, establishing solid relationships with them, and getting to know them and their company.
You meet with clients so you can better meet their needs, establish goals, or report on progress. But if you work from home, which many freelance designers do, it can be difficult to find a good place to meet with your clients. This article will offer a list of creative places to hold client meetings when you design from home. I’m sure there are a number of other places I haven’t even thought of, so please feel free to share your favorite places/ideas in the comments.

Meet at their place of business

This is an excellent option for any freelancer. Instead of making your client leave work, drive across town, and meet you in some obscure coffee house, why not go the extra mile and meet at their place of business. Of course, you don’t want to offer this option from the angle that you’ve got nowhere else to go because you freelance from home. Tell them you’d be happy to meet with them at their place of business because you don’t want to interrupt their day. Make it an added benefit of working with you as a freelance designer. Try something like “Don’t worry about all the hassle of traveling to meet me, I’ll come right to you and bring everything that we need to move forward with this project.” They’ll be happy they don’t have to travel and you’ll be happy you have a place to meet.

Meet on the internet

I know, the above title sounds like I’m suggesting PerfectMatch.com or something, but I am not. Use technology during conference calls to your advantage if you have nowhere to meet your client in person. Use services like Skype (btw, my skype ID is prestondlee, naturally. Connect with me sometime), iChat, or some other online video chatting service. Similar to meeting with them at their place of business, make meeting online an added benefit. Emphasize the ease and cost reduction they will experience as they simply connect online instead of driving an hour to meet with you. Likewise, if your client doesn’t have any of these services or, heaven forbid, doesn’t have the internet, a nice chat on the phone could be the ticket to success for you.

Meet at the library or another public place

Most communities have libraries or other public places with rooms that can be rented for a minimal fee or even reserved for free. Try to find a location that offers rooms like these somewhere between your home and your client’s place of business. The nice thing about places like these is that they tend to be more quiet. If you can rent a room all to yourself, it will be easier to get things done than if you are somewhere where a lot is going on or there is a lot of noise. Also, these places usually have wireless internet, which is usually a must for meetings like these.

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Meet at a restaurant

While I wouldn’t suggest you make this a habitual event, taking your client out to lunch can be a great opportunity to become better acquainted with them and their company. Consider taking your client out every few months or when you reach a celebratory milestone in the project. Of course, never do this if the situation is inappropriate (such as going to lunch alone with a client that is married), and always be sure to pick up the bill. They will appreciate the kind gesture and you can write it off as a business expense.

Meet out of doors

The last place I will suggest for meeting with your client when you design from home is to meet outside. Find a nice quiet public park, sit down at a table, and discuss the project you are working on. Being outside can be a great opportunity to help both you and your client be relaxed and extremely creative. Some of the best ideas I have ever had have come to me when I was outside, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying mother nature. Of course, too many outdoor meetings might seem unprofessional, but find a nice balance between this and other, indoor options.

Your turn to talk. Where do you meet with your clients?

Those are just a few simple suggestions I have when considering where to meet your design clients. Working from home is a wonderful thing and as you employ some of these strategies you can continue to work at home while maintaining a professional appearance with your clients. I would love to hear what suggestions you have on places to meet with your design clients. Where do you meet? Why? What places have I left off of the list? Add your suggestions in the comments and we’ll have a great time discussing them!

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  1. Just wondering, is it common practice to charge per meeting as well? some clients expect you to come the way to their doorstep for so many meetings without paying per meeting. is this normal?

    1. I would think it depends on the nature of the meeting. The only time I’d ever charge for a meeting would be if i was offering training or consulting services (outside of the initial consultation). However, at some point if a potential client is not pulling the trigger and you can’t pinpoint why- your time may be better spent elsewhere.

  2. I would say that most clients appreciate people coming to see them rather than wasting their valuable time going halfway around town just to meet, especially if it’s them giving you business. Occasionally some of them may suggest a cafe or even a meal to hold a discussion. By all means, why decline? *smiles. Great article.

  3. Great post. I usually hold meetings at the client site or a coffee shops. Coffee shops are great because they offer wi-fi.

  4. Glad to see that many who work from home prefer not to hold client meetings literally in-house. A restaurant or coffee house can be a good place for a mid-afternoon tea meeting, generally a quiet time. I’ve also used hotel common areas and meeting rooms. Going to their place of business is a good idea, especially if they have a comfortable meeting area available. Occasionally, I meet people at our community center, but it’s outside of town. While not the most convenient place, some like the novelty of coming to our little enclave on the lake.

  5. I am lucky to have a meeting room in my condo. I book it for 1 hour if needed and that is enough for the initial consultation.

  6. The new trend now is coworking spaces. According to Wikipedia, “Coworking is a style of work which involves a shared working environment, sometimes an office, yet independent activity.” If your city has them, use these instead of coffee shops or restaurants, which tend to be busy and noisy at times. Sometimes meeting at the library or outdoors (if you live in a state that experiences all four seasons) is not always feasible.

    1. @Vivica Shade,
      Another great addition I hadn’t thought of. Also you could go in on renting an office with another few freelancers or someone. Thanks for sharing the idea here. Is this what you do?

      1. @Preston D Lee,

        Yes. The coworking spaces can be rented out on a monthly or a daily basis, depending on what you’re looking for and the coworking spaces pricing options. You’re only renting the space and not the entire office, thus you don’t have to worry about leases and utilities. The coworking space here in my city offers a large desk space for $450/mo ranging down to a small desk space for $15/day. So, if the freelancer wanted to just meet a client for a day, the $15/day would be a better option.

  7. ‘…never do this if the situation is inappropriate (such as going to lunch alone with a member of the opposite sex, or if they are married)…’
    Hello heteronormativity!

  8. I meet most of my clients at a public wifi cafe because it’s the safest place to meet especially if they are new clients. Sometimes, I can sit for hours in the same cafe just meeting different clients at different time. With the wifi and atmosphere, I’ve got the chance to work and check emails between appointments, and well, it’s my mobile office to go. 🙂 And in Malaysia, I realised, most clients appreciate the chance to get out of their office for a little break of surroundings. Wifi cafe always does the trick here, in Malaysia, and for me.

  9. WE often meet clients at Java Joe’s, a local coffee shop. We do have an office, but it in the foothills above Santa Fe, a twenty minute ride for most of our clients, so they often prefer to meet in town. We have also met at a Border’s, a local chocolate house, a cafe and a gelato shop. Clients like the casual atmosphere and appreciate our coming to town to meet and having a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and getting away from their own offices for a bit..

    1. @Claudia Dunitz,
      I agree. I have found that clients like to get away from the office sometimes and often are more creative when they aren’t surrounded by all their usual work projects. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Great choices for freelancers! A couple of places I might add: 1) Ask your best client if you may schedule to use their conference room; 2) Ask your favorite print shop if you may borrow a room for a client meeting. This gives the client the impression you really work with the print shop, and lets the print shop realize this may be work coming their way.

    1. @Lisa Raymond,
      Lisa, These are some EXCELLENT suggestions. You can use your leverage to offer a client a discount on their next project if you can borrow their conference room or you can guarantee the print shop that you will do your projects with them. Very nice! Is this what you have done?

      1. @Preston D Lee, I have and it’s worked pretty well! This also gives the client the opportunity to see a print shop and ask questions, gaining confidence in this portion of the project. I’ve also met at colleagues’ conference rooms but strategically; in other words, the client I’m meeting with may be able to do business with my colleague (i.e., real estate agent, marketing guy) so I invite the client to meet with me in one of these conference rooms.

  11. I usually meet my clients at a nearby Starbucks! Since, I usually like to spend an hour with my client discussing about the project scope and how to go about it, there is no other better place than Starbucks to do so. Since August first week, it has been more fun, as wi-fi is totally free there!

    1. @Sonali Agrawal,
      Wow. What a plug for Starbucks! Ha ha. I agree, cafes are a great place to meet. They are calming as long as there aren’t too many people there.

      So, I’m curious, do you buy your client their coffee/donuts/etc?

  12. This is a great list of places to meet with clients. My office (even if I had one outside of the house) is always a mess so it’s nice to be able to meet clients at their office.

    Another possibility might be hotels or conference centers. They often have special meeting rooms.

      1. @Preston D Lee, other than my wife and my brother, no 8=)

        My wife has her office in the home as well and she has had the odd client come by to drop something off but never for a meeting.

        She usually meets them at their office or through phone/email conversations. As a paralegal she sometimes meets clients at court and there are conference rooms available at all courts for these types of meetings which is nice.

  13. These are fine choices and solutions to possible meeting places. I would also suggest meeting at executive office suites, where they have receptionists, phones and internet. You get your own private office relatively cheap. Depending in what city you are, there are several companies that provide these services. The client doesn’t have to know that it isn’t your permanent office or business.

    1. @Joe Valdez,
      This is a great suggestion, Joe! I would say even if your clients know its a rented exec office, it’s okay. It’s still a nice, professional place to meet. Thanks for sharing. Is this what you do?

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