How A Meeting Room Makes Your Virtual Office Real

A virtual office means you can work from home but officially be based in Central London. Letters sent to your virtual office will be forwarded to you.

You can also buy a London 0207 number and have it forward calls to your mobile. So far, so good.

But there's one thing missing: supposing someone wants to meet you at your office?

This could be ...

- A client, who's just in town for the day and wants to meet up;
- A potential new employee, who you don't want to interview at home;
- A casual worker you want to train;
- An investor who you want to make a formal presentation to.

In these cases, having quick access to a pleasant meeting room in your official office is very useful.

In the digital world, startups spend a lot of time in their t-shirts, coding. Most of the time, clients don't care how they look. They don't care particularly to meet them, as long as they get what they want.

But, sometimes, they do.

It's hard to get a flavour of who you are dealing with by email, phone and Skype. You are not going to give significant sums to some unknown person, sight unseen.

Anyone who's ever made a pitch knows you can tell more about who you're dealing with when you meet them in the flesh after five minutes, than by any digital contact.

- How do they look?
- What is their manner like?
- What kind of envIronment are they operating in?

Somebody, sometime, is going to want to meet you in person.

Yes, you can meet in a cafe. Or a hotel. That's Ok if both parties are pretty relaxed personally, or what they're going to discuss is not a serious matter. 

But really, it's saying something about you if you can't say 'yes' if someone wants to meet you at your office. 

Your virtual office should have a meeting room attached to it. That is, if you are advertising it as your business address.

If it's just a registered office, for legal purposes, then no problem. Your clients won't automatically assume they can go there and meet you.

But if you are giving everyone the impression that you're bigger than you are, then you should be able to back up your presentation. You'll feel more confident and your clients will have more confidence in you.

One benefit of a separate meeting room is that it's neutral ground. It's comfortable. Your clients are not made uncomfortable by meeting you in your den and likewise you are less pressured because you are not meeting them in their 'place of power': their offices.

This means you can negotiate without distraction and walk out if it's not going well.  Neither party can do that if they're meeting on their own territory.

Your meeting room should have the following characteristics:

1. Be unbranded.

You should be able to give the impression that these are your offices and not XYZ Virtual Office Company's.

2. Be pleasant-looking.

You don't want to put clients off by showing them into untidy premises.

3. Not too impressive looking.

A small web design firm operating out of a skyscraper is jarring. Match the premises to your niche. Clients won't believe a guy in scuffed shoes can afford a lease on the 4th floor.

4. Have a professional receptionist.

They need to have someone who can show clients to your room with minimal fuss.

5. Have facilities to make tea and coffee.

People can't talk for long without needing refreshment. It's also polite.

6. Have a whiteboard.

This is the simplest way to make a presentation.

7. Have free wifi.

Everyone has a laptop and a smartphone these days. You and your clients will need to access the internet. Wifi should be free and have a reasonably fast download speed.

8. Have good transport links.

Make it easy for your clients, and yourself, to get there. If it's well-served by train, road and bus links your clients will arrive in a better humour(!)

9. Be inexpensive.

You only want a basic room, with chairs and a table. There's no point paying for an auditorium with a projector and catered lunches.

- Just open a support ticket our staff 24 hours in advance and we'll take care of the rest!

Typically, most meetings run to two hours if they are properly moderated. You can't really be 'done and dusted' in one hour as people often arrive late and like to chatte, so you'll have to make allowances for that. We're all human.

Tip: Come and check out the room in advance, either some days before the meeting or arrive a little early, yourself,  on the day. This is so you can be comfortable there before the meeting starts and you can direct clients there if they get lost!

Finally, here's the hidden benefit of having a meeting room attached to your virtual address: even if you never use it, it gives you confidence knowing it's there.

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