In recent interviews, clients have been raving about the return to in-person meetings and are encouraging their outside advisors to be more visible. One client told me they just met their outside legal and financial advisors in person for the first time after working together for more than two years on an IPO. The pitch, kick-off and all other meetings have been conducted via phone or video.
They said, “They were actually onsite with us last week, and it was fantastic. We got more done in person in one week than in several weeks virtually. It was super effective, efficient and a super good use of everyone’s time. Does it have to be that way all the time? No, but it’s really effective.” Another client said, “It’s just being more visible. We are all strapped for time working from home and the office. It’s important to balance that time to be more visible and let us know you’re there.”
While we probably won’t go back to as many in-person meetings as we had in 2019 (and should avoid creating unnecessary and ineffective meetings), there is definitely a shift to doing more high-value work and business development meetings in person. If you haven’t been to see a client in a long time or are working to advance a relationship with a prospect, consider suggesting an in-person meeting. Recognize that one size fits one and know that some individuals may not be ready for in-person meetings yet so always ask for preferences.
Remember the six steps for more effective meetings:
- Have a clear purpose for your meeting.
- Confirm and honor the time contract.
- Be prepared.
- Ask open-ended questions and follow the trail.
- Align your communication styles to match the participants.
- Agree on next steps together.
Pandemic disruptions have led many of us to be more thoughtful in planning gatherings, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the value of face time. It’s an important part of being more visible to clients, and that will become increasingly important as your clients face new challenges and opportunities in the near and long term.