The first meeting with a client is the most important meeting and a lot of people are coming unprepared to it hoping that their existing knowledge will make it. But that is not the case. There are thousands of people who have the same knowledge as you and the best way to stand out is to know something which others don’t. I have been interviewing hundreds of people and a few of them did any kind of preparation. If you will follow the guide below you will increase your chances of getting a deal by 99%, just don’t be greedy and spend your time preparing
So, you have got a meeting booked and now you have 1 day to prepare for the interview. Don’t postpone it at the last moment and execute preparation as soon as possible. It will take you just about an hour.
Crunchbase is the worldwide database of all startups and companies with details about their product, employees, and investors. Find the company on Crunchbase, and make sure you understand the company stage, funding situation, and product they are building. Pay attention to when the company was founded, is it a fresher or already established company?
LinkedIn is the social media for professionals. Find the company on https://www.linkedin.com/, make sure you went through company posts and profiles of founders & employees. Pay attention to the background of the founders, which university they visited, which companies they worked with in the past, and which countries they were living in. It will be especially great if you find connections with founders, don’t hesitate to ask about your common connections at the first meeting.
Investigate the company website, and prepare at least 1 question about the product they are building. The best way to ask this question is. “I went through your website and I wanna make sure I understand the product you are building. So you are making … to help … with … . But how do you …” . Here you can ask questions about how they make money, how their tech works, who are their clients, etc. There are really no stupid quests, but there are really smart questions. If you can find the exact pain point the company is facing right now, you won this deal with 1 single question.
Here is what your interviewers must think about you after the first meeting:
- This person is honest and has great communication skills
- This person is having the right background to solve the problems we have
- This person will vibe with us and our team
- This person is having a long-term potential to work with us
If your interviewers will make those 4 conclusions about you, there is no way they will miss your deal for whatever price you name. This section will teach you how to lead them to make those conclusions about you. Save this article and read it a couple of times before the interview.
Must to understand
You have to have a complete understanding of these things after the first meeting. Some of the things you will learn from the preparation stage, some you can ask only at the meeting.
- A brief history of the company, its size, and funding background
- Brief background of founders
- What problem company is trying to solve
- What is the 5 years vision of the company
- What product company is already having
- What is the biggest struggle right now
- Why do they wanna hire you
- What is the project timeline
- Is this a contractor position or they are looking for a co-founder or employee paid in shares
Must to mention
You have to make sure that your interviewers understand these things about you. They can be not as proactive as you in asking questions but there definitely will be a moment where you be able to add a couple of more points to the conversation. Some of these points will be covered in your resume, some you can tell only on the meeting. If one of the points is weak, skip it and concentrate on the strong points you think will impress them. For example, if your longest project is in eCommerce but the founders are building SaaS, no need to tell much about it.
- Your personal background
- Your academic background
- Your self-learning background (courses, seminars, training, books, projects)
- Your network of connections
- Your hobbies
- Your professional background
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Your longest project
- The most similar project you had
- How would you solve their problem
Great to mention
If you have time left, don’t finish meeting earlier, better engage in more deep conversation about you and the company. Here are some great points you can discuss about yourself. If your background does have not many impressive points, great to mention points can make your self-presentation more engaging.
- Your values
- Your 5 years goals
- What startup would you start
- Common connections
Don’t talk like that
Avoid talking about these things at the first meeting at any cost.
- Suggesting something outside of your field of expertise. If you are a developer, don’t teach them about marketing or business. Most probably they are aware of that issue but it is not a priority, it sounds very silly when someone is trying to teach you how to do business you are doing for your whole life.
- Show too much respect. Of course, it is a basic manner to respect each other, however, you have to treat them as equal to you, not higher. Don’t position yourself as a vulnerable person eager for a job, show it like you have dozen of other options and you are just discovering the opportunity of working with them.
- Oversell yourself. Don’t talk too much about yourself and please, don’t lie. Clients appreciate transparency and honesty. If they asked a question and you have a bad answer, say it straight.
- Talk about salary, project budget, bonuses, working schedule, payment methods, etc. It shows that you are greedy and interested only in money. This one thing can destroy the whole first impression. Postpone the conversation about money to the second meeting.
Talk like that
You have to show yourself as a kind person interested in helping them solve their problems. Americans are having way different mindset from yours and you have to put yourself in their shoes.
- Have a small talk. At the beginning of each meeting tell something funny or interesting that happened to you today. Great place to talk about hobbies. Trust me, if you have the same hobby as a founder – it drastically increases your chances to get the position you want on the terms you want.
- If they ask about compensation, don’t answer straight. If they ask “What are your compensation expectations” you answer “I would love to work based on your budget, however, I would feel really comfortable working under the N $ per hour rate”. It shows that you are considering different options because you lose what they are doing. Most probably you will get the number you named, but you will show that you do care about them.
- Ask more questions. Questions about the company, social media, website, founders’ personal life, corporate culture, hobbies, etc. Show yourself as a proactive and curious person.