FAQ : Meeting with Clients in a Public Space

esterday was one of those days when I looked at my calendar, took a deep breath, and closed my eyes, almost like I was going to dive underwater. I scheduled two meetings (and lunch with my best friend) in Los Angeles and a meeting in Orange County later that night. I intentionally scheduled the day knowing I'd be on the road for most of it, but planning meetings with clients outside of a studio brought me back to my roots. Oh, did I fail to mention the lease ended for the last studio in December? And that I wandered Orange County looking for a new space like a crazed maniac lost duckling? The good news is that I'm incredibly excited for the new studio, but until the new floors, paint, and furniture are in, I'm meeting with clients in a myriad of locations (their wedding venue, their wedding coordinator's office, Starbucks, etc).

I explained to JD last night that one of the biggest challenges when it came to meeting clients outside of a formal studio is making it feel like home turf, a space I carved as my own. So, do you think it negatively impacts the chance of the clients to book your services, he asked. No, I didn't think it did, but I worked harder at making things intentional. He asked me to explain, so I decided to share my thoughts here in case it'll help someone meeting clients outside of a studio.

Speaking of JD, here's a photo of him at last Saturday's wedding adjusting the about ATTENTION TO DETAIL...I just wish he didn't apply such scrutiny when we reviewed my credit card bill.

If you're meeting with prospective clients in a public space, here are a few things I discovered helped me feel like I'm playing on home turf. I like that word. Turf. Makes me feel all athletic and stuff.
1. Arrive Early
I try to get to a meeting no later than 20 minutes early if I need to find a table and chairs (say, at a coffee shop) and a location that is away from noise and traffic. Of course, you'll always battle the ambient sounds of your environment (yesterday I had to talk over a crying child who just spilled his chocolate milk...can you say AWESOME?!), but the key is to take things in stride. If a child is crying or if a barista is yelling for Margaret to pick up her soy latte, I need to carry on and remained focused on what I'm there to do: get to know the clients.
2. Offer a Drink
After making small talk with the prospective clients, I offer to buy them a drink (this works well at a coffee shop, hotel lobby, or a wine lounge), which allows the opportunity for me to step away from the meeting space. Sure, the space is technically a table and three chairs, but it's a space I carved nevertheless. Leaving them alone with 3-4 sample albums is a good way for them to view my work away from me staring at them as they do so. Let's be real...if I stared at a couple as they flipped through my albums, I'd feel creepy, almost like I was expecting them to applaud or something once they got to the last page.
3. Understand Client Dynamic
If I'm meeting at a place the clients haven't seen, I need to allow them the time to take in their surroundings. Once I met clients at a wine lounge because I discovered the prospective groom was really into the art of wine making. Knowing this, I had to give the clients room to breathe before I dove into having a meeting. Allowing people to relax and just be is sometimes hard because I want to act professional and streamlined and use big words, but--sometimes--a quiet conversation away from wedding photography is juuuust right.
4. Showcase Professionalism.
My grandmother's legacy is imprinted all over my soul. She imparted such priceless wisdom, and one of things she taught me was to act the way you want to be treated. If one desires respect, be respectful. If one desires to be heard, she must listen. I'm making her sound like Yoda...but she was way cooler. And spoke with a Puerto Rican accent, which means she usually had to repeat things a few times before I fully understood what she said, but the point is the same: if you want clients to think you're a professional, act like one. Show up on time, dress appropriately, showcase kindness, and listen. Some of the greatest professionals are the best listeners...they hear what their client is saying (sometimes between the lines) and serves them with honesty and respect.

Hope this helps at least one person...if not, I'm still glad I wrote it out because I'm thankful for my clients...and their willingness to see me--the real me--in any environment.
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Nees - Great post. Really helpful.  03.27.14 - 8:32am
Andy Dowd - This is great. We always meet clients in a public space, and it's always awkward leaving them to get their drinks...and then yes, it's awkward again after they look through the albums. We never thought of combining those two; it makes great sense!   01.13.14 - 7:30am
Sunil Umbre - Thank you Jasmine! When i meet clients i expect there full attention and stick to the table and show my work and now i understand how important is the space given to them....from now on am ordering coffee/drink to all my clients :)  04.02.12 - 3:43pm
kathleen frank - always such great timing! i am definitely still getting the hang of meeting clients out and about, and i so needed to read this today. thanks for the tips!  04.02.12 - 2:09pm
vasia - Thanks for this post. I've been lucky to find both a florist and a quiet coffee shop who allow me to sit for hours and meet my clients, but I've always dreamed of a studio. Maybe one day I'll get one, but for now- I'm rocking the public meetings :)  04.02.12 - 9:40am
Alex - East London Wedding Phootgrapher - Totally agree with it all. The most important one I have learn't over the years is to listen! Good points thank you :-)  04.02.12 - 12:43am
Ivy Towler - Wonderful Advice for a newer business owner like me. Thank You for sharing. Cheers~Ivy  03.30.12 - 8:21pm
Joe Homsy - I share a second story office with a vidiograpapher. One evening I had an sales presentation appointment and a half hour before the get-together, someone drove their car through the downstairs store...there was a gas leak in the building...the police said to evacuate the building. I meet my potential client at McDonalds and booked the wedding on the spot. Goes to show ya...doesn't really matter all that much WHERE you meet them. I guess it's just how you "click".  03.29.12 - 7:38pm
Cindy Habel - Thanks Jasmine for continuing to inspire...and for sharing such helpful information :)   03.29.12 - 3:51pm
Kaley - I do not have a studio yet- but just booked a wedding at Starbucks. It worked this time and many times before. Thanks for the great advice on how to make a Starbucks booking feel professional.   03.29.12 - 3:28pm
Erin - This brings me back to where I started as well. Congratulations on finding another space.   03.29.12 - 11:51am
Amber - Thank you for being so open and honest about the business. I know starting out I was constantly looking for advice and tips. Your blogs have always been a great source and inspiration!  03.29.12 - 11:34am
Nancy Mitchell - Love your heart girl!   03.29.12 - 10:03am
Lydia - I have to say, sometimes it's just plain hard, but your words have helped to encourage me to keep trucking on! Sadly, my favorite cafe coffee shop in town closes early, so to Starbucks I go. But I'm keeping my eyes and ears open for a sweet little place for the future!  03.29.12 - 2:24am
Ela - WHEW- Thank you for letting us breathe easy! I always feel like a warrior at coffee shops- scoping out chairs to snag and all of that fun stuff. Fingers crossed on the wonderful new space! :)  03.28.12 - 11:52pm
Alison - Thank you SO much for posting this! I don't have a studio and I'm just beginning to shoot weddings and I'm meeting with a bride on Wednesday. Just in time :)  03.28.12 - 10:05pm
Tim Monson - Great post. Very helpful. Thanks for sharing.  03.28.12 - 8:50pm
Girl in the White Dress - I must admit I pretty much took residence in the Hilton's lobby in Sydney to meet my clients. The benefit of going there all the time is that the staff know me and they welcome us with a massive warm smile and treat us like royalty. For $3.5 a coffee it's pretty cheap for 5* space rent and staff service I say!!   03.28.12 - 7:50pm
Carissa - I totally needed this today Jasmine! As my husband and I are in the process of finding somewhere permanent to live, I have no choice but to meet at public places, and this is SUCH great advice. Thank you, as always!!   03.28.12 - 6:33pm
LEOLAK - You are so rocking with great advice!!! Can't wait to see pics of the new space. That JD....Awesome!!'s almost Friday! =)   03.28.12 - 3:31pm
Ashley Goodwin - :) I pinned a "joint creative workspace" in hawaii a while back and totally forgot about it until the other day, so Im happy for the option reminder! YOU can book a client ANYWHERE, girlfriend! xo  03.28.12 - 2:37pm
Leslie Davis - Such a great post ... even if you do have your own office/meeting space ;)   03.28.12 - 1:57pm
Rachele Scaringelli Watkins - Thanks for the sneak peek ;o) JD was super attentive and both of you are the epitome of professional. (I only wish that I could have managed to be on time.)  03.28.12 - 1:38pm
Kristen Driscoll - Thanks J* - you are so helpful :)  03.28.12 - 1:27pm
elvira - LOVELY...yes, THIS was truly a lovely post;...and so TRUE! ciao ciao elvira   03.28.12 - 1:25pm
Nicole Diehnelt - Thank you Jasmine! This is so helpful. I love the way you take a topic or question and make it in to a fun and inspirational post.  03.28.12 - 1:14pm
The New Diplomat's Wife - great advice!  03.28.12 - 1:00pm
heather - Meeting with someone in 1.5 hrs...good refresher :) Thanks!  03.28.12 - 12:53pm
Lini Campbell - So true!!! Great to feel that I am doing the right things when I meet clients. Hopefully Starbucks is a steeping stone to a more personal space!!!   03.28.12 - 12:20pm
Jess Robertson - I'm still meeting in public places so really appreciated this post! Thanks for the words of wisdom :)  03.28.12 - 11:55am
stephen - Great advice for us people who do not have a studio. Thank you.  03.28.12 - 11:48am
Dianne - Thanks, Jasmine! Great tips.  03.28.12 - 11:45am
Anna - thank you Jasmine for sharing. as i don't have a studio yet, i find these tips quite useful.  03.28.12 - 11:38am
Melina - This is awesome! I love your writing and your content! I laugh and learn whenever I read your stuff! So thanks!   03.28.12 - 11:36am
Christina Dely - Love this post! Extremely helpful :)  03.28.12 - 11:31am
Carmaleta Ann - Very helpful! Thank you for this post!  03.28.12 - 11:27am
Audrey Curran - So awesome - I am literally getting my thoughts together to go meet a client at Starbucks in three hours!! I came to your blog to pull from my "inner Jasmine"...and Wahlah! The perfect post for me. :) I call that a "God Nod". Happy Wednesday!  03.28.12 - 11:23am
Krista Lynch - It is definitely helpful! Thank you for sharing! :)  03.28.12 - 11:16am
Haley Johnston - I love that you still meet in public places! If I was your client (hopefully someday!) I would appreciate how real you are to meet in places like Starbucks. I think that sometimes a studio meeting can be intimating.   03.28.12 - 11:15am
Jessica Vidmar Photography - Amen to that!! Starbucks and Panera have unofficially become my offices and I have to say I like it...if it a meeting goes bad I can always go grab a sweet treat to lift my spirits...just kidding (sometimes : ) But I do really like being able to step away from my prospective clients to grab them a drink and let them have a little time together. It's working, it's working!!  03.28.12 - 11:10am
Steve - There's a NEW (non-starbucks) coffee shop in my town, called The Daily Brew, where the owner has a meeting room that can be rented out. Comes with a huge 42-inch TV, wi-fi and catered service for anyone to rent. And for $4.95 per person, they get unlimited coffee, pastries, etc. for the hour or so we need to meet. The owner lets me show up early to display my work and setup my MAC to the TV for my presentation. Works great for those of us who don't have our own office/studio... or, don't want them coming to our home. My elderly dad lives w/me may hit on the Brides I interview. :) Thanks JAS!!!   03.28.12 - 11:04am
Ashley Rogers - So good! Thank you for sharing these awesome tips!  03.28.12 - 11:03am
Jo Robbins - Thank you so much, Jasmine. I'm continually struck by your generosity. Sharing tips and encouraging others is what people in my world call "bringing the Kingdom to earth." You da bomb.   03.28.12 - 10:57am
Whitney Arnett - Love this post! I hope you do a write up and post pics once your new studio is up and running.   03.28.12 - 10:54am
Teresa K - I <3 you Jasmine, seriously. I've been in the business a few years now and have outgrown some of my initial online mentors, but not you. I still love popping in and listening to what you have to say. Your attitude and perspective are always inspiring. Thank you for being you and weathering this crazy storm so well.   03.28.12 - 10:50am
Tara - I absolutely love this post! Thank you Jasmine  03.28.12 - 10:49am
Elizabeth Glessner - From someone who is still rockin' the coffeeshop meeting (although I've moved away from Starbucks and on to a quieter and more intimate little bakery), thank you for sharing these tips! I'm gonna try them out at my consult this afternoon :)  03.28.12 - 10:45am
Melissa Cramer - I noticed JD's attention to detail at TheFix in San Fran when he very discreetly let you know your dress strap needed to be tucked back in. I remember thinking, "THAT is amazing!" Because: 1) that he even noticed, and 2) that he knew it would be important enough to YOU to mention it! :)  03.28.12 - 10:43am
Joy - Thank you so much for being honest with all of us. Your transparency is so refreshing and very inspiring. Blessings to you!  03.28.12 - 10:41am
Tami Inoue - I'm still at a Starbuck's meeting place, and it's served me well. :) Thanks for the tips...I love the tangibleness of these tips!  03.28.12 - 10:37am
Rhommel - Sound advice Jasmine! Most of my clients are from the city and My studio about 40miles away so I usually tell them that I can meet them at a location of their choice. Most of my clients are surprised and appreciate the fact that I will go above and beyond just to meet them. Doing it this way, gives them the 'AT HOME' feeling :)   03.28.12 - 10:36am
Kristie Nicoll - headed to starbucks across town (next to the bridal shop ;) ) right this very second! Thanks for an ever so timely post. Studio space will come this summer and I can't wait! <3  03.28.12 - 10:31am
Dewi - It's great, Jasmine. Thank you for sharing your grandma legacy. They are priceless........  03.28.12 - 10:29am
Rachel Marie Photography - I love your reasoning behind #2. I think it goes along with #4 and making them feel more comfortable. Great tips!  03.28.12 - 10:28am
Kansas - I still lack a studio and these pointers were healthy and great reminders. Even though I usually meet at my "usual" coffee shop, it is important to "transform" the space for the purpose while making the client feel comfortable. Thanks Jasmine!  03.28.12 - 10:19am
Scarleth - Thank you so much for this! I don't own a studio at the moment and am always meeting my clients at coffee shops....{Starbucks, to be exact...} Thanks again!  03.28.12 - 10:18am
Lacey Rabalais - Thank you J*. I am meeting with a potential bride this afternoon in a new location. God sure knew I needed this post today. Thank you again. Maybe I won't be nervous. But as of now, my closet is full of clothes, yet I have nothing to wear. My hair isn't having the best day, and I'm just plain nervous. Again, thank you. :o)  03.28.12 - 10:12am
Chaucee - Thanks for this post! I'm currently at the phase where I don't have a studio and I'm meeting mostly at coffee shops.   03.28.12 - 10:11am