Hit a Homerun at the Business Lunch Table
When it comes to business lunches, there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong. From eating too quickly and talking too much to failing to seem personable enough, finding your way to the pot of gold at the end of the business lunch rainbow is an often arduous journey that can be fraught with frustration and missteps. But it doesn’t have to be. We repeat: it doesn’t have to be.
A successful business lunch begins long before you sit down in the restaurant, shake hands and open your menus. Here are four easy ways to get your business lunch off on the right foot and well on its way to being a success.
Don’t Skimp on Car Service
If you’re entertaining a client in a city that is unfamiliar to them, you want to make sure they have a trustworthy mode of transportation. Many people forget the importance of providing potential clients with effortless ways to get around, and we aren’t talking about cabs, public transit or rental cars. None of these are reliable, and are especially not luxurious.
Booking car service to retrieve your potential client from the airport or their hotel is easily step number one to a great business lunch and, indeed, overall experience. . Your chauffeur will provide a friendly smile and the quickest route to the restaurant. Plus, your business prospect can relax in the backseat, take a nap or get extra work done if he or she so wishes. It’s really a win-win: you make a great impression on your potential client, and they get to enjoy the luxury of top-notch transportation services.
Keep Your Etiquette on Point
Another important part of a successful business lunch is your etiquette. And what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. First and foremost, remember your table manners. Your parents didn’t spend years teaching you not to chew with your mouth open or lick your fingers at the table just so the information could go out the window at perhaps the time when you need to remember it most. So, you know, don’t chew with your mouth open or lick your fingers during a lunch with a potential client. Don’t put your elbows on the table, don’t reach across someone to get something from the other side of the table, and try to remember to put your napkin in your chair and not on the table if you get up to use the restroom.
What to Order
Let your business partner guide the ordering process, more or less. If they’re new to town, they might want you to recommend a restaurant or a dish from the menu, but if they don’t look poised to gobble down a huge meal, you shouldn’t order the largest item you can find and proceed to gorge yourself for two hours. Remember, this is a business lunch, not a fanfare dinner meant to pop the buttons on your Oxford. If your client orders a salad, choose something comparable that won’t leave you munching at the table long after they’ve finished their last leaf. Business negotiations and personal relations are harder to build if you’re eating and they aren’t.
Go Easy on the Cocktails
One way to take a business lunch from comfortable and personable to uncomfortable is to have one too many drinks. Know your limits, and don’t surpass them, no matter how well you think things are going. This is business, remember, and keeping the business side of things front and center requires a reasonable mind at all times. Additionally, try not to outdrink your company. If your potential client is sipping slowly, sip slowly as well. You don’t want to appear fidgety or overzealous, and drinking too fast is one way to show that you’re nervous, which will, in turn, make your potential client nervous.
Preparing for a business lunch by running through the various aspects of business etiquette can get overwhelming. But once you see the benefits you can enjoy by having your etiquette down, polished and ready to go before your client gets into their limo is a quick route to success and an ultimately better business relationship. What do you do to ensure that your business lunches go well?
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