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Where to Find Free Meeting Space for a Freelance or Home Based Business

Att Wireless, Corporate Image, Home Based Businesses

Sooner or later, every person who’s running a home-based business has the need to work out of the home to meet with prospects, clients, suppliers or strategic partners – or simpley to network or get away from the kids. “Home Sweet Home” may not be always be the sweetest place to prospect to negotiate a contract, network or to hold a business get together.

A friend of mine who runs a very successful manufacturers rep business from her condo refers to this out-of-home meeting space as her “branch office”. Here are a few ways to find your “out of home” meeting space for free or at virtually no cost!

There are times when with some clients, your strategy may be to de-emphasize the home-based aspect of your business and project a more professional or “corporate image”. In other instances, your home office is a geographically undesirable location from a time or logistics standpoint. Or very often, you simply haven’t the space at home, the house is a mess, or the kids are on the warpath! So you need some alternative space.

Fortunately, every city and town offers a variety of options for the home-based business owner to conduct business outside of the home. Here are a number of free or inexpensive places to consider using as a branch office:

Starbucks. More business deals are probably conducted at your friendly neighborhood Starbuck’s than at any other place in town. Next time you visit one for a cup of coffee, look around and listen. You’ll hear realtors and mortgage brokers talking terms with clients, lawyers talking business, multilevel marketers and life insurance sales people making a sales pitch, people preparing presentations on their laptops and of course college students cramming for an exam.

Starbucks is a T Mobile hotspot, so you can gain Internet access for a few hours or the entire day via your laptop for a small charge to your credit card. All their shops have plenty of tables, many also have couches and comfortable chairs, and of course there’s the great coffee, tea, sodas, sandwiches. That’s why so many home-based businesses make Starbucks their out- of- home meeting space.

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Other Business Friendly Cafes. Starbuck’s isn’t the only business-friendly café. There are cafes, tearooms, bistros and laid-back eateries where you can hold a business meeting. Just look around town and ask other people who run home based businesses where they like to meet.

Embassy Suites Hotels. All Embassy Suites Hotels have beautiful, spacious lobby atriums that are like interior parks and landscaped with fountains, pools and quiet little sitting areas. They also have restaurants and bars that are operational during most of the day and evening. They’re great places to meet, great and eat and there’s usually plenty of free or low cost parking.

Other Hotel Lobbies. Many hotels have lobbies with very comfortable sitting areas where many people meet to conduct business. These “common” or “public” areas of the hotel very often have adjacent coffee shops or bars where you can grab a quick bite to eat as well. You don’t have to be a guest to use them. Most chain hotels that cater to business travelers like Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, Sheraton and others have common areas where business people always meet. Many independent hotels do as well.

Airports. Many local and regional airports have common sitting areas outside the secured gate areas that can be good places to meet and do business. Small town airports are often very good places to meet. Most of your small to mid-sized regional airports are Internet Hotspots for either T Mobile or ATT Wireless and also have restaurants or lounges offering food and liquid refreshments.

Office Complex Lobbies. Some large office complexes with a large number of tenants have lobbies with planned seating areas, fountains and cafes – similar to hotel lobbies where people can meet to talk business. If enter one and don’t see other people doing it, the building management frowns on it and security will soon as you to leave. Once again, ask other home-based business people you know if they know of any such places.

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Malls. Very often high-end shopping malls have common sitting areas with fountains or landscaped atria with seating areas usually with cafes, bistros and more formalrestaurants. The right mall can provide a convenient spot for informal meetings outside the home. If the mall has an upscale “anchor store” such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, or Saks Fifth Avenue, it’s usually the type of mall that will ample formal or informal space to meet and discuss business.

Neiman Marcus, Nordstrum, Saks and Bloomingdale’s usually have in-store cafes, bistros or coffee bars that make a stylish and relatively inexpensive place to meet and discuss business. Meeting at the Neiman Marcus Café to discuss business over a cup of Hawaiian Kona Coffee and an incredible 12 layer Chocolate Grand Marnier Cake is always a welcome invitation that lays the groundwork for a successful business meeting.

Public Outdoor Places. Weather permitting, many cities have river front public areas with chairs and tables where you can meet a business associate. Since in some parts of the country, the outdoor season is short and even in tropical Southern Florida, rain can always be a factor, use this option only for impromptu meetings you schedule the same day or a day in advance.

Executive Office Suite Centers. In many cities, home-based businesses and sole proprietors can use the services of commercial executive suite centers. They make money by helping independent and out of town business people make the right impression

These centers provide you with an office and or meeting room, computer, phone, fax and copy machine, office supplies and administrative services for a morning, a full day, a week or even a year.

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The reception areas feature comfortable furniture, tasteful décor and conservative artwork on the wall. Of course they all have an ample supply of the latest business magazines. The receptionists are usually highly professional – the kind you see at major corporate offices. Offices tend to be average size and are ideal for working or interviewing potential employees.

The price varies by the city, the services you need and the length of time you need them. These centers are excellent when you need to hold formal meetings and presentations, schedule a sizeable number of back-to-back meetings or when you’re doing mass recruiting or training. Look for them in your local yellow pages or search online.

Local Organizations If you need to have a meeting for a larger group of people during the day or in the evening, contact local civic and religious organizations to see if they have small, low cost rooms you could use. First contact any groups where you are a member. Sometimes members get Free, lower cost or top priority on using the facilities. Some possible locations include: church and Jewish Community Center social rooms,
cvic organizations, chambers of commerce and merchants associations, fraternal groups, and of course, American Legion and VFW Posts.

The key to meeting in the right places and projecting the right image for a home based business is being creative. There are plenty of free or low cost out-of-the-home branch offices waiting for home-based businesses like yours. Have fun. Pick a place that your client or associate will enjoy and remember. It will pay off handsomely So don’t be afraid to get out of the house and get down to business, have a little fun.