Copywriters are just one group of the growing number of home workers. All sorts of consultants and freelancers can be found beavering away in their home offices, or even in their garages or garden sheds.
While working from home is commonplace, it can pose a problem when it comes to organising client meetings. Of course, as a copywriter, you might prefer to visit your clients in their offices, but that will mean spending time and money on travel. If your client is also a home worker, that can pose another problem.
Although not ideal, check out your local coffee shops and cafés. Most will be happy to serve you coffee (and cakes!) while you discuss business with your client. Remember, you will need space and privacy, though. If your venue is packed with small tables, you might not have enough room to spread papers out, and if your conversation is confidential, you risk being overheard.
Avoid peak times (e.g. lunchtimes) when the venue is likely to be busy. It is harder to conduct business in a bustling atmosphere and, understandably, the staff might not be too impressed if you monopolise one of their tables unless you order food.
Most hotels have a lounge or quiet area where you can arrange to meet a client over coffee or tea. The cost of refreshments is likely to be higher than a coffee shop, but there is usually more room to spread out and fewer privacy issues. Hotels generally have separate dining rooms, so you won’t interfere with their food trade.
Like coffee shops, there are disadvantages over holding meetings in pubs, particularly at peak times. If you do meet a client in a pub, remember it’s a business meeting and stick to soft drinks!
Are there any business centres in your area with meeting space? Some forward-thinking centres have café areas where you can hold meetings without having to pay for a private room. Again, if it’s a public area, you’ll have to take space and confidentiality into account.
If the meeting involves several people and is likely to last for several hours, booking a room might be your best bet.
To avoid any awkward moments, be prepared to foot the bill for refreshments if you meet a client at an external venue. Make sure you have enough cash with you, or you have a credit or debit card to fall back on.
If you’re meeting someone in a networking situation, it’s easy to suggest you ‘go Dutch’, but a client might expect you to pay for the coffee and cakes! Of course, if you’re lucky, the client might pick up the bill, but don’t rely on it. If you regularly meet the same client and have a good relationship, taking turns will prevent any embarrassment.
If you do pay for the refreshments, be sure to ask for a receipt. You might be able to claim the money back as expenses, but to be on the safe side, check the rules with your accountant.
Should you invite clients to a meeting in your home? Would that be considered unprofessional? Are there any risks involved?
Personally, I think there are some benefits in holding client meetings in your home. It shows stability and gives you an air of permanence – you’re not someone who will just take their money and run – and if you do, the client will know where to find you!
When you welcome a client into your home, you can build a greater rapport. The meeting might be a little less formal when your client is also your guest. But if you do decide to hold client meetings at home, there are a few things you’ll need to think about:
There is no easy answer to the meeting conundrum when you work from home. Perhaps you could solve the problem by holding your meeting virtually using Skype or a Google+ hangout.
If you’re a home worker, why not tell us where you hold your client meetings. Just put a comment in the box below.
Blog post by Joy McCarthy