My Meeting Places

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Corporates businesses have their conference rooms. I have Rivervale Plaza. That’s one aspect of a freelancer’s life others should know about.

As a freelancer, without a specific office location, I have had meetings at various types of places. One of my favourite is Heavenly Wang at Rivervale Plaza (Singapore). It is quiet enough, and we can hear each other talk. (I actually have tried Starbucks before. Oh my, it was SO noisy, with all those crowd, student groups and so on). But, anyway, just wanted to highlight that some of the plus points of a freelancer is that you can have meetings at such places like cafes and fast-food restaurants or anywhere at all, as long as it is convenient and we can talk.

At one point of time, the number of start-up companies who contacted me got quite frequent. I’m a web and mobile app developer. Suddenly many people have many ideas for the society at large. And they need a programmer/developer to develop their ideas into actual apps. Of course, thanks to Google, they found me at Getcha Solutions.

I have been in this business since 1995, during my university days. So, I have seen how the “meeting places” have evolved. When I was a student, sidelining as a “web designer” for extra pocket money, businesses contacted me and ask me to come down to their office to “discuss further”. Well, since I was just a student, I picked-and-chose if I wanted to take up a job or not, to go for a meeting or not, based on my convenience and so-called “mood”.

Then, “real-life” came, when I went out into the workforce. Of course, I was gainfully employed fulltime somewhere. So, my own business was still a sideline. But I realised, during that time, that as a Service Provider (SP), you must go to the client’s office, or a location of their choice. That’s like the norm. THEY are the customer, so SP must go over to THEIR location of choice for the meeting, even if they are just a prospect and not a client yet.

In fact, in my own dayjob-company (where I was the employee), we ourselves practice this. We call umpteen SPs to come down for a meeting and to demo to us how they can help us, ask dozens of questions, and then say that we will contact them (most times we don’t). Back of the mind, I felt quite sad for their wasted times.

Anyway, for my own business, though a bit inconvenient, I still didn’t have much of a problem. I was still sidelining, thus, again, it was a matter of me picking-and-choosing if I wanna go for the meeting or to refuse.

Then came another era. It was not me who was lazy to go for a meeting. The clients who contacted me were “lazy”! I started getting emails, with attachments of the full project requirements and details, and asking me “how much and how long is the timeline”. They cut straight to the chase. I studied the first such emails and quoted them. I realise then that more and more are such requests, and I honed my skill of cost-quoting over email. Soon, THAT became the norm, for me.

So, most clients were asking like this, and there were a minority who still insisted that “I don’t deal with anyone I don’t meet face-to-face.”.

“I’m still old-fashion”, some say. Of course, I do understand all types of people, because I have spanned across decades of clients. So, yet again, I resorted to my favourite method: picking-and-choosing who I go for a meeting with. Because, most of the others are okay with email and phone-call discussions.

And then, finally, coming to THIS era, the type of people who mainly contact me are start-up companies, typically young people, but also older ones, but all are VERY flexible and understanding and ready to break any entrenched mindset. So, most of them “just wanna discuss and run-through ideas informally” with me. At first, I met them at a mutually-agreed place. Then, it became Rivervale Plaza, my neighbourhood mall. Then, when the frequency was even more, I decided to have my meetings under my block!

At first, it was unimaginable, yes, even for me. But, was I surprised when almost everyone was cool with it. Luckily, there is a nice Senior’s Corner where we can sit quietly and talk. In some ways, it’s much better than coffee shops in malls. There are willing to come here just to have the casual talk about their ideas and how I can help them. So, why not?

Of course, there are always some who balk at the very thought that I ask them to come under my block for a meeting. But then again, I’m flexible. I go where the demand is. Currently, most clients are okay with it, so for now, this is it.

When time changes, I will change.

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