What's The Protocol For In-Person Meetings NOW?
I had my first in-person meeting with a potential new client last month. They were a local firm and the discussion was about a longer term engagement, so it made sense to meet. It really hasn’t been necessary as video calls have been a very effective proxy in our business development meetings. Clients who previously needed to meet in person before making their decisions had to make decisions over virtual meetings in order to continue to develop their teams and achieve key business priorities. But I was excited to dust off the old “shoes and socks” for this meeting.
I walked into the building with my mask on as was required, signed in at the reception, guided to the correct elevator bank, and made my way up.
When I entered the office, the receptionist saw me and pulled out his mask from his drawer and put it on. He led me to the conference room and said Stacy would be right in. A few minutes later, I see Stacy coming towards the conference room. She sees me (mask still on) and pulls a mask out of her pocket and puts it on. We greeted each other with a traditional “business wave” and took our seats.
After a couple of minutes, I asked if she would be comfortable if I moved away a few more seats and we took our masks off. I let her know that I was vaccinated, and she said she was too. It made such a difference!
I realized that I would much rather have a Zoom meeting than a meeting with masks on – there’s less connection being in the same room and not able to see each other’s faces than there is over a video call.
I’ve talked to a couple of other client facers who have started meeting in person, and I hear some humorous stories of awkwardness and unclear protocol. In one meeting, the senior member walked into the room without a mask and the masked people in the room quickly took theirs off. Another was in a meeting where their client had their mask on the whole time (but on their chin – which has been proven ineffective against covid but effective in preventing food getting on your chin). And most of us are trying to decide if we stick with the wave, progress towards elbow-bumps, or try that handshake thing our forefathers used to do.
Video meetings are here to stay. But there’s value in meeting in person and I'm confident we’ll find the way we have in-person meetings NOW.