Even though some people are predicting that changing trends will lead to the festivalization of business meetings, there’s no denying that a classic business lunch and/or dinners can serve a number of purposes and will never go out of style.
But almost all of them require you to be respectful, mindful, and entertaining without being too overbearing. So whether you’re making an impression on a new client or trying to build on a relationship with an old one, keep these 5 crucial things in mind for your next meal!
This might sound clichéd but we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be on time for business meetings. Nothing is as unprofessional as showing up late. It will inadvertently give off a negative impression and that’s the last note you want to start your meeting on.
2. Let clients order first
By letting your client order first, you will be giving them the choice to choose what they’d like without being inhibited by your own choices. As a rule of thumb, avoid ordering alcohol unless your client shows an inclination or if it’s a celebratory occasion.
3. Keep your phone off the table
It may be second nature to reach for your phone every time a notification pops up but it is basic table manners to keep your phone aside. If you’re constantly checking your phone it may show your client you are uninterested in the conversation, and may convey rudeness. Put notifications on silent, and if there is a very important call or emergency you are expecting, let your client know beforehand.
4. Don’t dive straight into business talk
Imagine someone invites you to dinner and before you’ve even sat down, they’ve launched into their business proposal. Straight turn off right? Keep the business talk for after you’ve ordered. Take the time before that to catch up with your client, develop a level of comfort and familiarity – or, if this is your first time meeting them – get to know them better.
5. When it comes to the bill
It can be embarrassing and awkward when it comes to who is paying the bill. If you are hosting the meal, it might be easier to give the waiter your card before you order to avoid the inevitable haggle over the bill. If that’s not possible, just be prepared to pay before the bill even comes so there is no awkwardness.
Of course, a key aspect to making these meetings successful even if you follow all of the above is to make sure there is healthy, genuinely interesting conversation flowing. A good conversation can lift the mood of the table and make it easy to tackle even the hardest possible topics.