Providing a good venue in meeting a client helps in establishing a good impression and reputation. But what is the ideal one to casually meet a client in to catch up? A formal or an informal one? Perhaps, the best way to know is to be aware first, about the difference between a formal meeting and an informal one.
A formal meeting has a set agenda and the minutes of the meeting had to be documented. Examples are board or conference meetings, informal venues, special task forces, committees, and communities. The ones that attend it usually have defined roles that follow a hierarchy and are more likely to be representing companies and organizations. Note, if your team or client is about to undergo a training session like an organizational development certification then you need to formalise the meeting in advance.
On the other hand, informal meetings happen as it gets organized on a day-to-day basis. Brainstorming sessions and progress reporting fall into this kind. Informal meetings require an agenda. But mostly, to keep everyone focused. It keeps them on track so that they won’t get derailed from the purpose of the meeting. Minutes are not legally required but it’s always advisable. And if they were taken down, it’s just to know what was tackled as a pointer for the next meeting to take lead from.
When it comes to informal meetings’ minutes, such as one-on-one coaching and mentoring information chats, they are more lenient and do not require formal use of language and sequence. No formal votes needed therefore, no need for structured decision-making. This is not a license for informal meetings to lose their structure altogether. They also most certainly aren’t free for all to attend.
Now that we have clearly defined each, it’s safe to assume that it’s common that informal meetings will take place in an informal venue. But just in case you have to decide which is best for your casual client catch up, here are some factors you must consider in deciding which:
What is the casual meet-up for? Is it just to exchange views on some progress in the project to be done? Is a signature or two needed to finalize contracts? Is it for tripping to a property for sale? Or to get feedback from the product bought from you or the service rendered by you? Having an agenda is one of the most ultimate factors one must consider to identify how casual a meetup could be.
There are casual meetups that are full of idea generation. But there are casual meetups that create just as how Steve Jobs initially met up with his friends at the garage as they worked on the first Apple computer. But since that was the most conducive at that time, and all they needed was a workshop where they could all work together regardless of the location.
Casual meetups or informal meetings follow an agenda, but it’s more laidback and relaxed. It doesn’t have a set time to finish. Its minutes are not taken down strictly. Although casual meetups usually need little time only, it all depends on how much of exchange is needed in terms of views, opinions, suggestions, and agreements. It’s advisable that the longer you expect a casual meeting would last, the more it needs a formal venue because a coffee shop may not be too ideal for long meetings. Many things are discussed during informal meetings. The client is encouraged to speak up more and discuss anything that’s not usually discussed in a formal meeting.
Informal meetings usually involve not more than 5 people. If it is too large than that, it may need its own boardroom. As an informal venue somehow releases the client from anything tense, they feel encouraged to share their views and opinion. An informal venue provides a less threatening ambience for the client that enables it to express more of itself making the rapport you build even sturdier.
Informal meetings or casual meetups come in many forms. Examples are ones that are done in ad hoc, impromptu, or last minute. There are no minutes taker, manager or chairperson and a strict agenda. Some clients prefer a formal venue over an informal one even though it’s a client catch up meeting only. Represent yourself well by consulting this list to help you gauge what is the most appropriate for your client.