Over the last decade it has become increasingly fashionable to undertake business meetings in more informal locations and settings. This has been the case both for one on one business meetings and the growth in popularity of networking meetings. Networking meetings, especially, have flourished in locations such as bars, hotels, and in the form of business breakfasts and outdoor lunch meetings. The quirkier and more relaxed the setting, the greater the turnout in many cases.
Sometimes the strictly formal, suited and booted approach is necessary within business. It is the old fashioned system that has worked so well for decades and is still important when sealing big deals for your company’s future. But when it comes to promoting your business and nurturing long term relationships with suppliers, business partners and even clients, there has been a push towards a more “softly softly” approach in recent years that really does work.
These informal settings are often arranged within the grounds of a company. Some offer annual, or even more regular, activities and open house days at their premises. This gives a chance for customers and potential clients to get to know the team behind the service in a relaxed setting that is not strictly linked to a selling point. The benefit of this type of informal setting is that you can put a face to the name and let your client base know you are there for them at any time. By doing so, you might not be putting on a hard sell on the day itself but you will stick in their minds. If done well, you can build long lasting and trusting relationships.
This has been taken on in the form of network meetings, which have become particularly successful in recent years. Many companies have been set up purely to provide networking meetings through a variety of locations, and there are a myriad of types and times to suit any business and individual. These range from local wine bars in the evening after regular working hours to breakfast meetings for the early starters at business parks such as those at Harwell Oxford. Networking meetings again provide an informal setting for you to develop and nurture mutually beneficial relationships with other businesses within your area. For those who go in with a mindset of getting to know people, rather than selling to them, it can be extremely beneficial. It can give new and start up businesses the chance to gain a foothold within their local business communities, whilst opening up possibilities to new ventures and partnerships that wouldn’t be possible should you decide to go it completely alone.
So if you have been looking to engage in a more prolific and effective business meeting schedule, you might want to think about closing the door on the board room in your office building and instead taking to the parks and wine bars of your locale. This way you’ll have more relaxed clients and business relationships that last.
Rachel is a freelance business blogger who has written on a huge variety of business topics.