Where can I meet with clients when I don’t have an office?

Q & A by C.J. HaydenMaintaining an office is an expensive proposition, and when your business doesn’t require meeting with clients daily, you may not want to take on that kind of overhead. But then when you do need to meet with a client in person, where do you do it?

Here are some of the many places that an independent professional can meet with a client for little or no cost, either in your home city or when traveling:

  • A coffee shop or cafe – In between lunch and dinner many cafes are relatively empty and happy to have you sit there for a couple of hours as long as you order something.
  • Public space in a hotel – There are many private alcoves and quiet seating areas in hotel lobbies, as well as bars or dining areas that go unused during the day.
  • Seating areas in libraries, shopping centers, and parks – Many public spaces have areas where two people can sit and talk undisturbed for an hour or two.
  • Study room at a university – Some universities have free study rooms available in their library or student union for anyone who registers for at least one class per semester.
  • Community center meeting room – Many community centers rent out small rooms at a very low hourly cost.
  • Conference room or unused office at a local business or nonprofit – Some organizations have space that is used only part-time and are happy to rent it out on an hourly basis. Or, you may have a colleague whose office space includes a common conference room that they can reserve for you at no charge.
  • Meeting room at a private club – If you need to meet with clients often in a professional environment, club membership can be much cheaper than an office.
  • Office in an executive suite – You can rent an office or conference room by the hour or day from an executive suite complex.
  • Business center at the airport – Great for meeting clients when you or they are traveling; private rooms are often available for rent.

To locate free spaces to meet, look around your neighborhood or downtown area for quiet, unoccupied seating areas. To find space to rent, check the print or online Yellow Pages for “meeting space” or “executive suites,” or post a notice on your local Craigslist asking if anyone has space to rent on an occasional basis.

If you’re worried about what your clients might think when you suggest meeting in a place that isn’t your own office, don’t be. Just be matter-of-fact about needing to find a place to meet and don’t make excuses. Sometimes your client will even suggest a great place to meet when you tell them you will need to choose a location. When you let clients know straight out that this is how you work, you’ll find them to be very accepting of almost any meeting location you suggest.

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