Let’s Meet!

Derek Miller  /   August 6, 2018

The Right Way to Start a Business Relationship

Business relationships by nature are created out of necessity and utility—a task that needs completing. When starting a new business relationship, the most important (and a sometimes underrated) part of the process is meeting in person. While it’s possible to work together while skipping this step, it can lead to problems of misunderstanding. If an initial meeting is skipped, the goals of the relationship are often left ambiguous, leading to confusion and ultimately mistakes. A personal connection is important for building a strong, long-lasting business relationship, the kind all professionals hope to foster. An excerpt from a 2015 Forbes article by Mina Chang says:

If the point of business were simply to accomplish as many tasks as possible, then yes, an email would probably do…If you’ve ever been on the bad side of cyber miscommunication, you’ll agree that faster isn’t always better. When I find myself anxious to rush through an interaction, I repeat the mantra of “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

The use of the word “smooth” in that instance is excellent. I’ve always found that establishing the foundation of a new client relationship makes working together exactly that: smooth. There are other key factors, however, that affect the initial meeting. The venue is one of those key factors.

Meeting in a place other than the principle or professional’s office is vital for giving a meeting a more casual feel. For a first meeting, that can help all parties feel more comfortable and build better rapport. Nothing sets a friendlier, more casual tone than breakfast. As a self-proclaimed “big breakfast guy” who has been working in downtown Portland for seven years, I’ve frequented a lot of the city’s best breakfast and coffee spots. Some of my favorites spots in downtown Portland are as follows.

The Crooked Mile

8 Milk Street, Portland

In my humble opinion, The Crooked Mile serves the best breakfast sandwich in the city. My personal favorite here is a bacon egg and cheese on a croissant. There is always a healthy amount of egg and the American cheese is melted perfectly, but without a doubt the star of the show is the croissant—buttery, crisp, and sturdy enough to support its generous contents. The café itself is brimming with charm and seating options; a meeting could be held on a leather couch, at a wooden table, or at a window bar.

Arabica Coffee House

2 Free Street & 9 Commercial Street, Portland

While they don’t serve breakfast sandwiches, the bagel and cream cheese combo they serve is a great way to break your fast. The bagels are made in-house at their Commerical Street location and the cream cheese they use is hearty and the perfect complement to the sesame or everything bagel I typically opt for. They also offer a host of great cookies that can be brought back to the office for a snack later in the day. Both locations offer a classic coffee shop ambiance that is at once vintage and modern.

Market Street Eats

36 Market Street, Portland

Most people think of breakfast sandwiches served on a croissant, bagel, or English muffin; that is where Market Street Eats breaks the mold. Their large variety of unique breakfast sandwiches are wrapped in a Syrian pita and toasted to perfection. I order The Simple with sausage: two perfectly fried eggs meld with tasty sausage links and American cheese. Market Street Eats also allows you to build your own sandwich from a range of delicious ingredients. The restaurant has a casual diner feel and the service is fast and very friendly.

OhNo Café

87 Brackett Street, Portland

Located in the West End, OhNo Café offers a host of fantastic specialty breakfast sandwiches. My personal favorite is the #1 which boasts egg, cheese, prosciutto, maple syrup and Tabasco on a bagel. They also offer their sandwiches on English muffins, croissants, ciabatta, or gluten-free bread. OhNo’s other sandwiches are just as creative and delicious, meaing there’s something on the menu for everyone. The café itself is small, but incredibly charming as the location has a neighborhood feel.

It’s important to note that no kickbacks have been taken in the suggestion of these options, delicious breakfast-food or otherwise! These are my tried and true favorites after years of meeting with prospective clients and grabbing some breakfast before a meeting or on my way back to the office.

If the morning hour doesn’t work for a meeting then my favorite business lunch in Portland is at David’s in Monument Square. They provide both a fantastic traditional menu and a great lunch buffet with various and assorted offerings. The buffet allows the meeting participants to grab food and eat quickly, allowing everyone to get down to business without interruption. Save the business talk for after everyone has eaten and use that initial time to establish commonalities and get to know one another.

With the importance of meeting face-to-face established and all the amazing suggestions for places to meet, get out there and start building better working relationships with clients and professionals! The same advice applies for reconnecting with an existing client that you haven’t worked with for a while. When a working relationship goes smoothly, obstacles that arise while working a deal are more easily overcome and the end goal achieved in a timelier manner. Take the time to meet because as the mantra went earlier: “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”