If you’re self-employed or run a virtual company, a home office will generally suffice for day-to-day work. But if a client or a prospect requests an in-person meeting, you may need to find a more professional host setting than your living room or a local coffee shop.
Luckily, plenty of options exist, depending on your needs and location. Here are four suggestions for borrowing or renting meeting space.
1. Use your Chamber of Commerce’s meeting room. Many chambers of commerce permit members to use their boardrooms free of charge, as a perk of their annual membership fee. If you belong to a local or regional chamber, find out whether you can take advantage of this option. If you aren’t already a member, consider whether it’s worth joining to enjoy this and other benefits, such as networking events and an online directory listing.
2. Book a hotel conference room. Many hotels rent meeting rooms of various sizes, often with a wireless internet connection and access to projectors and other A/V equipment. This option is especially practical if your clients are flying into town to meet with you, because they can stay at the same hotel as your meeting. Most major chains, such as Marriott and Hilton, offer meeting spaces for an hourly fee or day rate. Search for facilities in your area at HotelPlanner.com.
3. Reserve a meeting room at the library. Many public libraries rent conference rooms for rates that are considerably cheaper than those of hotels and other commercial businesses. (Check with a library near you about specific spaces and costs.) Libraries don’t exactly scream cachet. Also, they may not have all the perks associated with other locations, such as on-site catering, so find out in advance whether the services you seek are available or whether third-party suppliers are permitted.
4. Take advantage of unoccupied space in an office or co-working facility. Many businesses don’t use all of their available office space and are willing to loan out empty rooms through services such as LiquidSpace and ShareDesk. These websites allow businesses to describe their spaces, from small meeting rooms to large conference halls that can accommodate several hundred people. They provide a simple way to set your search terms (size, amenities, time frame) and compare your options according to description, price, availability, and user reviews.