David was the publicity and marketing incharge of a renowned firm. The firm had just hired a new recruit as the marketing director under him. As luck would have it, the company had bagged a potential customer which would give the company a whopping business. Now although a bit skeptical, David put the responsibility of cracking the deal at a luncheon business meeting with the hot shot customer on the new fellow. David's fears came true when he got a call from the customer, absolutely furious.
None of you reading this, in the concerned field, would not want to be in this scenario, I am sure. Then the problem is how can such an embarrassment be avoided? Simple! One just needs to brush up his or her business lunch etiquette. Are you ready then?
Business Lunch Etiquette Tips
Time is Money and Business
All the management and business experts never shy away from telling this to everyone - practice punctuality. Being at the meeting on time or even a few minutes ahead of the stipulated time before the clients is advised. If you do not value your customer's time, you lose points there itself. Thus, NEVER ever make a customer wait for you.
Planning Before Hand
Give the client an option to pick a place, though there is no harm in suggesting a place suiting your budget. After you zero in on a place and time, send reminder email a day before the meeting. It is a good habit to inculcate with regards to business etiquette.
Pleasantries, Et All
Now this is a bit tricky. Offering a handshake and greeting with a good afternoon is a good etiquette. Saying something like thank you for taking your precious time for this meeting will be good. Unless you know the person you are having the meeting with, avoid coming up with witty one liners. If there is a large group, from a single firm, meet the senior most with regards to the position and then accordingly the others. Oh and yes, please do not forget to switch off or put your cell on silent mode. This is a very crucial aspect of business lunch etiquette.
Talking the Talk
Just to give the conversation a kick start, a small talk is required. But let it be just that - SMALL. No rambling about your family or kids for too long, it can put off the client. Break it when the waiter comes for your order. Slowly get into the business mode. Avoid rushing directly to the business talk. If your food does not come before the client's, ask the client to go ahead with his, lest it gets cold. Read more on business dining etiquette.
Coming to the Point
Broach and venture into the actual serious business talk as the desserts or coffee come in. Avoid looking at the napkins and getting your basics right about fork and spoon handling would be an added advantage. Further, if the customer has wine it is okay for you to have a little wine and do I need to mention that being in high spirits at such a meeting is a huge no no in business lunch etiquette? In addition to that, remember to keep your napkin on your left after you are done with your food. Read more on table manners and etiquettes.
Another problem area in business lunch etiquette- who pays. Well, it has to be you, obviously! To make this affair discreet, there are many ways. To start off, before you take your place, ask the waiter to give you the bill directly. The client or your guest should not even know ideally that you paid the bill. What you can also do is, as and when you are sure that you are not going to order anything more, excuse yourself and pay at the reception directly. This will avoid any ambiguity as to who will pay. Read more on meeting etiquette.
Finally, give a good enough tip and walk the guest out and ensure that he is comfortably on his way. You should never leave before the client. In business lunch etiquette, doing that would be a major faux passe.
Last but not the least, it is a good idea to send a follow up thank you note to the guest. Even in case you haven't been able to strike a deal. It could be a physical note or an email for his graciousness of having given you time! Leaves a positive impression. Read more on business dinner etiquette.
This is where I sign off in the hope, that you find this useful and have great business luncheons! Cheers, for now!