The Unspoken Etiquette of Meeting a New Contact for the First Time

Whether you’ve set up a coffee date with a potential client, reconnecting with a former colleague over happy hour or headed for a blowout with the new digital editor of a key lifestyle publication, there are a few simple tricks you can employ to ensure a positive, fruitful and, importantly, classy experience is had by all.

From location to picking up the tab, here’s how the pros do it.

1. Limit effort on the part of your guest

No one in Brooklyn wants to come out to Manhattan (or vice-versa), so when you put out the offer, make it super easy for your contact to say yes by requiring as little effort from them as possible! This not only positions you as a considerate, helpful person, but demonstrates a level of thoughtfulness and care that is always well appreciated.  An easy meeting spot for them means a stress-free, productive and enjoyable time for both of you, from the get-go.

2. Offer multiple times/locations

No one wants to do 17 rounds of hashing out availability over email or text. Proactively offer several time slots (tools like Doodle or NeettoMeet are great for this) and locations. Even for straight-forward or same day appointments, at least send a Google Calendar invites – that phone pop-up reminder is super helpful on a busier than normal day.

If it’s been a few weeks since your initial conversation, it’s always a good idea to confirm plans a day or two before. email confirm your meeting the a day or two before.

3. RSVP + Arrive First

Along with the convenience idea, always get a reservation ahead of time if you can, even for places you don’t think will get busy. For events, get there early so that you are the one who gets in line, swoops a seat, puts your name on the list, etc. Even if you consider yourself a punctual person, all sorts of things can delay you that are out of your control. While everyone understands the occasional “running late – be there in 5” text – if you are en route to an informational interview or editor date, you definitely need to be early.

Give yourself an ample buffer so that you can be as relaxed as possible and so that the stress of getting seated is taken care of for your guest.

4. Come prepared

Do a quick skim of your contact’s social media accounts for quick conversation starters. Be sure to congratulate your guest on major life events such as getting married, getting promoted or having a baby, but also ask about more minor details like weekend plans, a birthday celebration or even how their dog is doing to build instant rapport and make it clear you are interested in building a relationship, not simply pushing your agenda. That said, be prepared with an idea of what you hope the next steps after this meeting will be – and make sure you steer the conversation organically toward mutually beneficial opportunities and ideas.

5. Take Notes

Depending on the scope and tone of your meeting, you might want to take a few notes. I always bring a Rifle Paper notebook and fancier pen to meetings. Don’t be afraid to take out your laptop as long as you’re still paying attention to the person and not just typing away. For a more traditional business meeting, like a prospective client meet & greet, choose a place with wifi. Don’t be shy! Just ask if you can take notes on key pieces of advice, suggested resources, and the brilliant ideas the two of you come up with. If you need to follow up on any items, you can simply say, “I’m going to send myself a note to remember to send you that file,” and then do!

6. Pick up the tab

Always offer to pay for the person who took the time to meet with you. Even better, ask ahead for their favorite coffee or order, and have it ready for them when they arrive. Imagine your favorite cocktail or appetizer ready for you after a long day!  After I get confirmation that our plans are on, I’ll ask for their cell phone number, text them when I arrive and see what I can pick up for them.

Everyone loves to be treated, so make meeting with you is a treat! Afterward, be sure to send a thank you note and then continue to stay in touch.

About This Author

Mallory Gleitman is PR Director at Mariposa Communications. Specializing in fashion accessory brands, Mariposa offers a diverse range of public relations services and customized strategic marketing plans. Mallory has lived in Manhattan since graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in Strategic Communications and Textiles and Clothing.