Business dinners and lunches are a great way to form and strengthen business relationships. Sharing a meal with an existing or potential client gives you the opportunity to get to know them better on a more personal level and vice versa. However there are a few rules you should follow to keep it professional while dining. Here are my 5 tips for business dining :
1.Choose an appropriate restaurant and make a reservation
When you’re hosting a business lunch or dinner it’s important to ensure that you pick a restaurant that suits the purpose of your meeting. Stay away from fast food joints or chain restaurants and avoid entertaining clients in your home. Choose a mid to high range restaurant that has a good ambience which is conducive to conversation. You should also reserve your table in advance.
- Arrive early
Always endeavor to arrive well before your guests. This way you can make sure you have a suitable table and make payment arrangements ahead of time. You should also greet your guests as they walk in to the restaurant and escort them to your table. After all you’re the host.
- Do your prep work
Whenever you’re meeting a potential or existing client it’s important to have appropriate and relevant topics to talk about. Familiarize yourself with what’s going on in the world in general, the business world and the client/potential client’s organization. You should ideally know about your potential client’s organization in terms of future plans, recent acquisitions or anything exciting that may help your case in securing their business.
- No laptops at the table
Nothing is worse than working at the dining table. Your guest would be expecting a relaxed meal and having your laptop out explaining facts and figures just ruins the mood. Ideally you shouldn’t be bringing any numbers to the table. Think of the meal as a way of building a rapport with your potential or existing customer. You want them to like you so don’t hide behind the numbers.
- Mind your manners
Basic table manners are a must when hosting a business meal. If you’re unsure of which fork to use or where to place your napkin simply seek the advice of an etiquette expert before your meal. This will help you brush up on your manners and increase your confidence.
Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world. She can be reached via Website, Twitter, Facebook or her Blog.