Small Businesses Make a Big Impression: Use a Meeting and Conference Center to Connect with Clients

 


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You've got a great business plan, a phenomenal product or service, and the energy and drive to promote your business. There's only one problem. You're running your entire company out of a corner of your living room, or your garage; or you've rented a hole in the wall office furnished with ancient office furniture scrounged from anyplace you could find it, and you're not really comfortable inviting high power prospective clients to your location.

Your regional meeting and conference center may have the perfect answer. These centers are springing up all over the country, and offer a range of options for meetings, conferences, and conventions. Designed to project a modern, professional corporate image, they allow even small start ups to make a dynamic impact on potential clients and management personnel. Whether you need to schedule a ten o'clock meeting with a few representatives from a major corporation you're targeting for business, or you need to rent a room for an entire day to interview a series of potential management hirees, an attractive, functional meeting room will reflect your company's professionalism.

When you're choosing a meeting and conference center, be sure to research the availability of communications technology; the best centers will offer the latest high tech media equipment, so that if you have to project a Powerpoint display, a CD-Rom, or a DVD presentation, you have access to the equipment you need. A competently operated business center will also provide high speed Internet access and dial-up, as well as a number of business services including secretarial and clerical support, photocopying services, and FAXing capability. If you're going to be holding a lengthy meeting, you also need to make arrangements for your clients to have lunch or morning or afternoon food breaks, depending on the timing of the meeting. If you hold annual meetings for your employees, your partners or stockholders, or your board of directors, you may want to splurge on an informational meeting which includes a sumptuous catered meal.

If you're expecting potential clients or vendors to travel to meet with you from out of town, you may want to pay special attention to the meeting center's ease of access, both from Interstate highways and from regional airports. Business people who travel frequently want to get to a meeting quickly, have a productive experience, and then get back on the road, to the airport, or to their hotel room with as little fuss as possible. Choosing your meeting's location to facilitate this will make a positive impact on those you're meeting; putting them in a position of getting snarled in city traffic will definitely not.

Of course, the best meeting and conference center in the world is only as impressive as the presentation you make. Make sure you're prepared, and have all the documentation you need at the meeting, polished and organized. If you have a media presentation to make, be sure it says what you want it to say, and then communicate with the tech experts at the meeting center to be absolutely certain you know how to operate the equipment. If possible, troubleshoot the equipment, and practice the presentation, well before your meeting so that you can make a smooth, polished performance.

Even if you're operating a start-up company on a shoestring, creative use of your regional meeting and conference center will allow you to project a professional, successful image to your business associates; and nothing sells like success.

Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire and frequently contributes to Tips and Topics . She has published numerous articles in local and regional publications on a wide range of topics, including business, education, the arts, and local events. Her feature articles include an interview with independent documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and a feature on prisoners at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord. She may be reached at amfredenburg@yahoo.com .

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