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Years ago I had a meeting with a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, and he made an interesting comment I still find myself thinking about: his preferred place for informal business meetings was hotel lobbies. (Looking back he probably got the idea from this NYT article!)
There are obvious advantages to this — they’re nice, public spaces; they usually have food and drink available, as well as bathrooms, free WiFi (or WiFi you may be able to get if, say, you stay one night) — and they also generally don’t mind if you linger or talk. But at the time, I wondered: was that really the best place for informal business meetings for women? Could I steal that trick for myself?
Cut to a week ago, when I had a phone conversation with a consultant I’m mentoring, and we were discussing whether she needed conference space of her own — and my mind came back to the conversation about hotel lobbies. My hesitation here has always been the one a lot of you are probably thinking right now: you don’t want any client to misunderstand you and think you’re propositioning them.
We’ve talked before about where to find new clients and general business development tips — how to network in a general way so you can meet new people who eventually become clients — but not where to physically meet up with prospective clients if you want an informal meeting place — so let’s discuss.
For those of you who try to woo clients or new hires, or generally like to meet on neutral ground: where are your preferred places to meet up with clients? How do you choose it — by proximity? Familiarity? Cost?
Do you prefer coffee shops or restaurants to spots like hotel lobbies? Do you think there are big advantages to meeting on neutral ground — is it easier to get a prospective new client to see you to talk business and gauge fit if they’re “just meeting for coffee” versus the big scary “coming into your office to meet the team” kind of meeting? If you often work away from home or your office, do you like to use hotel lobbies?
I will note, a lot of coworking spaces have a base fee for the year + office time + conference room time as needed — if you skip the “office time” it can be a very affordable way to get conference room time…
Over to you, readers — what are your thoughts on the best places for informal business meetings for women?
Pictured: Pixabay (Ko Olina Marriott Hotel Resort Oahu).