Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

Meeting business contacts blind: cringey or part of the freelance fun?

Remember those cheesy adverts for dating sites?  Blind dates arranged by agencies – before the luxury of the internet and proper photos – which saw total strangers look for each other in crowded bars – not having any real clue what the other looked like…

My blind ‘business’ dates

This week I’ve been on three ‘blind’ business meetings and they’ve been what I’d call an ‘experience’.  Most websites, and people’s profiles on such websites as LinkedIn carry avatars of the person you’re going to meet – but transferring the 3cm x 3cm image into a strapping six-foot bloke in a bar is nigh on impossible.

One of the meetings I had was at a very, very posh spa/hotel.  (It was that posh I even had to ask where the bar was.)  I was a little early so made sure I sat near the entrance in order to catch my business date.  There were other people sat around me but they were all deep in conversation; no one looked as if they were searching for more bodies in particular.  Neither did anyone resemble my ‘date’s’ thumbnail image I’d imprinted on my brain before I’d set off and left my computer.

Fifteen minutes later, my phone buzzed with a text.  “Just to let you know, I’m in the bar,” it said.  Erm….no you’re not, thought I.

A couple of “Where are you?” messages later and a guy started waving manically in my direction – only after I’d described what I was wearing…(sounds like a different type of phone call, doesn’t it?).  I was flustered and embarrassed which isn’t the greatest start to a business meeting.

Tell me what you’re wearing…

For my next one, I briefed the lady as to exactly what I would have on, right down to the colour of my shoes.  I attached a recent photo of myself, not the slightly kinder one at the top of this page.  I stood outside the café where we were to meet, feeling a little inconspicuous as I still didn’t have a true idea of what she looked like (just a damn gravatar again); luckily, my description must have been sufficient because she walked straight up to me with no hesitation.

You are HERE

On the third meeting, I went even further to make sure there was no confusion.  Because our meeting place was in an entertainment complex full of restaurants, bars, etc., I knew there’d be tons of people milling about.  A description of me still wouldn’t have led to her to pick me out from the crowd.  This time, I went as far as telling her exactly where I’d be stood – by the ‘You are Here’ sign.  I thought it was appropriate – I WAS there.

Because I’m still new to all this malarkey, I’d be interested to know how other freelancers find this issue.  Do you cringe at the ‘blind-date’ type business meeting?  Are you tempted to wear a red rose in your top pocket?  Or do you just set off in blissful ignorance and hope for the best?

Meeting in public places (if there isn’t an option of meeting in one’s office) is a good idea in many ways, safety for one – especially for women.  Plus, there’s usually opportunity to get a drink which instantly relaxes the parties concerned, whether water, coffee, or neat vodka.

So, let’s just hope my new blind-date business contacts learn to love me – that they think our relationship is worth pursuing, that we have a bright future ahead of us both and we can make sweet music together.

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Written by Alistair Beech on March 11, 2011 and filed in Frazzled Freelancer, Freelancers, Opinion , , ,


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