Meetings Without Meals
We don't know about you, but we're not that into golf. If you are, that's great -- you have a natural place to entertain like-minded clients, a reliable venue for talking shop with your colleagues, and a good spot for closing deals with prospects. Men have other business entertainment options at their disposal, including good, clean fun (i.e. the playoff game), and not-so-clean but -- depending upon who you talk to -- good fun (i.e. bars and strip clubs). But as women, if we're not into hitting the clubs (golf or otherwise), when we want to meet for business, we're usually stuck having a meal.
A couple of weeks ago, Elaine and I needed to have a meeting. Top on our agenda was to pick the topic for this month's column and, since the idea list was looking a little thin, a full-on brainstorming session was in order. I stopped by her office for lunch and, over turkey wraps and chicken soup, we batted around some ideas. An hour later lunch was finished, but we weren't. Elaine took a break to make a call, and when I happened to overhear that she was moving her manicure appointment, I asked if I could tag along. Half an hour later we sat side-by-side, hands soaking in minty-scented water, talking shop. We came up with an idea for the column, but then we realized that the very fact that we were meeting while having manicures was a great way for us, as women, to do business.
We asked ourselves, "Why do we have to have a meal to have a meeting?" (No doubt our waistlines were thanking us!) What other fun ways could we, as women, meet for business and entertain clients? We started brainstorming and came up with the following list:
Health Clubs: For those of us who are into fitness, we realized that having a meeting while working out can be the ultimate in multitasking. I told Elaine that when I worked in the entertainment industry, I once had a boss who liked to meet at the gym. While jogging away on treadmills I'd give her my monthly status update on prospective new deals, ongoing contract negotiations, and any outstanding client issues. One big bonus of that time was that despite my long work day, I was in great shape! I told Elaine about another friend of mine, owner of a high-profile advertising services company, who often books private yoga sessions and takes her clients along. (We think this is a great strategy for calming a client when you need to deliver bad news!)
Shopping: For many women, shopping together is like a sporting event. There's tension (you both want those Prada pumps that are on sale!), teamwork (tag-teaming to sift through the racks), and a time constraint (you need to be back in the office by 3:00 for the board meeting). Elaine has a senior salesperson who takes her clients shopping at New York City's famed discount stores (Century 21, Daffy's). By the time her prospects have loaded up their bags, she has their business. Salespeople take note -- you get somebody a great deal, and they'll give you one!
Spa Day: We consider this the ultimate in client pampering, since getting a full-day appointment at a top spa can be tougher than getting Super Bowl tickets. Elaine and I have a friend who, as a division president for a major fashion brand, often takes her buyers for massages. We think this could be an equal-opportunity option that works for both men and women, since many of the men we know enjoy going for a sports massage. Here's a tip: If you're taking a male client, call ahead to make sure the spa has separate waiting areas for their male and female customers. The last thing you want is for your top prospect to see you in a bathrobe!
As busy businesswomen, it can sometimes seem like we're always meeting about something. Whether we're gathering our team to discuss the latest budget numbers, wooing prospects for their business, or entertaining clients to strengthen the relationship, getting together with people is an essential part of our job. Next time, rather than reaching for the phone to make yet another restaurant reservation, think outside the box and come up with a new way to have a business meeting!
What creative ways have you found to have business meetings? Drop us a line at ElainePamela@gmail.com and tell us!