A Working Lunch,
By Wendy Works
A business lunch can be a powerful tool when it comes to capturing the loyalty of new and potential clients. Don’t be afraid of it. If you are not used to this type of venue, then you can quickly master the tips and tricks of hosting and you can own the lunch.
1. Be ultra-organized. E-mail all invitations and confirm the guest list. Make sure that you mention that reservations have been made for a specific number of people, that way nobody will include any friends, family or even worse their legal advisers. Let everyone know who will be attending along with their profiles.
2. Check out the restaurant reviews online and also get opinions from people you know who have been there. If possible make a visit at lunch time and see how quickly people are being served; is there a preferred seating that would complement your meeting; does the menu offer vegetarian dishes. Ask the restaurant for suggestions from the menu and any specials they may wish to offer.
3. Dress in conservative business attire. Leave your phone on until everyone has arrived then make a show of turning it off and hopefully everyone will follow your lead. If there are more than two people meeting for the first time ask everyone to introduce themselves. Sometimes name cards on the table can be quite helpful.
4. Never be rude to the restaurant staff (repeat 3 times). Being rude can be a real deal breaker. A business lunch can show more about a person’s character flaws and strengths in only one hour than a hundred emails. Things like: How they handle poor service; are they drinking too much alcohol; do they have bad table manners (talking with their mouth full of food); or inappropriate conversation topics.
5. Learn some formal etiquette. Which water glass is yours? Which Bread plate? Remember BMW it isn’t just a great car it also is a great way of remembering the correct order of the table. B is for bread (on your left) M is for meal plate (in front of you) and W is for water (on your right). Forks and knives? Just work from the outside in for each course and dessert utensils are laid out at the top of your plate. Napkin should be folded in your lap.
6. Always pay with a credit card. If you pull out cash then it might start an avalanche of people chipping in for the meal. You could make arrangements a head of time or slip your credit card to the server during the meal.
Keep lunch to a minimum of two hours and then stand up and thank everyone for attending. Make sure when you get back to the office that you send a nice thank you note to everyone who was kind enough to attend.
Business lunches are extremely important. It is one of the benefits of working in the city where you can meet everyone for lunch, but try to keep the cost down and the conversation flowing.