While you can expect to enjoy some good food at your business lunch, this meeting is not all about munching down your meal. This is a social event that will connect you with potential clients and partners in a comfortable environment. So, now that you’re invited to such an event, make sure to come prepared to leave the best impression possible. Here are a few etiquette tips to follow.
Dress for the occasion
Coming underdressed or overdressed can be quite embarrassing, so make sure to always confirm the dress code. If you’re hosting the lunch, offer your guests a tip on appropriate attire. You might say something like “The restaurant is casual, so feel free to put on something comfortable”. Still, make sure to wear clean clothes, long pants and a shirt. If you’re the guest, ask for some clothing tips—this will demonstrate your attention to details and your take-charge personality.
Arrive a little early
No matter if you’re the host or the guests, plan to arrive a little early, about five minutes before your set time. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive, especially if you’re not familiar with the part of town you’re meeting at. Also, if you’re going to be late for any reason, call to inform your lunch partners of your delay. This will show responsible behavior and won’t leave others wondering whether they have the right place or time.
Before your business lunch, look at the menu online and find two or three choices you can go with. Knowing exactly what you want when you arrive will ensure everything is going smoothly and you’re not wasting anyone’s time. You’re also expected to prepare some business-related topics. If you want to ask questions, prepare a list of relevant issues you want to discuss.
If your party will be going somewhere else after dinner, like whisky or cigar lounge, make sure to look into some choices so you don’t embarrass yourself. If you’re not big on cigar smoking, you can opt for something more modern like elegant Vaporesso devices so you can still be included in the expereince. Their starter kit is perfect for beginners and you will easily get familiarized with the mechanics of vaping.
Order something practical
A spaghetti sauce stain on your tie can completely ruin your professional look, plus it will make you and everyone else quite embarrassed. Also, there’s no way to look sophisticated while sucking on a king crab leg or eating chicken wings with your hands. Choose something that can easily be cut and eaten with a fork. Also, if you’re a guest, don’t order the most expensive thing. It’s a good idea to order something a little cheaper than what your host ordered just to show respect, and try to match your portion size with everyone else.
Take it easy with eating
Your business lunch is not a competition on who can eat the most or fastest. When you’re seated and waiting on your food, feel free to sip on your drink, but don’t load up on bread sticks and condiments. Once everyone’s meals arrive, wait until the host starts eating to show good table manners. If you’re the host, grab a bite or two even if you’re eager to launch into your pitch, so that other guests know they can start eating. In many cases, the food won’t arrive at the same time, so wait until everyone receives their dish to begin.
Put your phone away
Many green businesspeople think that using a phone during business lunches makes them look important, but it only leaves an impression of a person who’s incapable of managing their time. If you’re expecting an important call, make sure to announce it beforehand, so you can freely leave the table when your phone rings.
Humans are very sensitive to subtle signs that offer insight into someone’s personality the second we meet. So to leave a good first and last impression, firmly shake hands with everyone while making eye contact. It’s also very polite to ask to cover the bill as a guest. If you’re the host and a guest asks the same thing, just say ‘it’s been taken care of’ to prevent fights over the bill.
If you handle your business lunch like this, you can look forward to building a good business relationship with your guests and hosts. And maybe you will soon be invited for another lunch!