As an account supervisor with AHPR, I’m responsible for building the relationship with the client and ensuring my team does great work. I’m the AS for HIV Alliance. It’s my first experience managing a client team and HIV Alliance is a new addition to AHPR’s client roster.  In our first meeting, it was important to understand what HIV Alliance needs accomplish in the next nine months and how my team could help them meet their goals. Meeting a client can be intimidating, especially as a student. It is important to gain client respect right away and this initial meeting can make or break the rest of the time you spend working with them. Here are five tips to help you nail your first meeting:

  1. Do your homework. If you go into a client meeting with no information about your new client, the meeting will likely flop. Preparing does not just mean looking at a client’s “About Us” section for a few minutes. It means digging deep into their website, studying their social media and even looking at competitors. As the account supervisor, I knew that this was going to be the key to having a fluid conversation in our initial meeting.  To prepare for my meeting, I wrote down notes about the HIV Alliance website, information about upcoming events, and questions that came up when looking at its online presence.
  2. Have a plan. When you come to the meeting, have an agenda. Know how to start the conversation and the questions you need answered. Having notes allows you to feel more confident and ensure the conversation stays on track. My initial meeting lasted more than an hour. It would have been easy to get distracted, but by having an outline I was able to make sure that all of my questions were answered, as well as the client’s.
  3. Be a good listener. You prepared for this meeting. You know everything you can about the organization. You have a plan. Now, make sure you take the time to listen. After all, this is ultimately about how your organizations are going to mesh. You’re a team now.
  4. Ask questions. There is still plenty to learn about the client. Ask questions about what your role will be. Ask what expectations they have. Ask about deadlines and how they prefer you communicate with them. By inquiring further, you show that you have a genuine interest in their success.
  5. Be professional. This step is simple. Dress appropriately. Be prepared. Do NOT be late. Seems simple enough, right?

By preparing for my initial meeting with HIV Alliance, I was able to establish a rapport with the client and understand what my team’s role will be. Although every client is unique, it is always important to have a plan going into the first meeting to start your relationship out right, with a strong foundation for success.

Post by Jen Eisenmann

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