In a world connected by wireless networks, we have little time for human connections. But we all understand the effectiveness of a face to face meeting. Client lunches have always been a great way to cut some of the best deals and maintain a great relationship in the industry.
Even today, having meeting-cum-lunch with your client holds more perks than just a formal meeting at your business premises. However, business lunches can have a devastating effect on both your image as well as your brand image, if you are found to not comply with certain tables and meeting etiquettes. Business etiquette books are available in plenty.
However, it is the basics that most people tend to neglect. Here, we provide you some of the absolute musts when it comes to maintaining etiquettes for a client lunch:
Punctuality: This is a must if you want to create that favorable first impression. It pays off to reach a little earlier. You do not want to leave your client waiting, creating an impression that you don’t value his or her time.
Get the Spot Right: Do not make the mistake of selecting a restaurant you have not been to unless of course it is chosen by your client. If you are making the choice, make sure you take your guests to a nice restaurant where you know the food and quality are of top-notch.
Placing the Order: Allow your client to order first, lest he or she is inhibited by your choices. Do not be indecisive when it comes to choosing your own course. Also, it is better to avoid alcohol unless your clients are inclined towards indulging a bit at lunch.
The Conversation: Well, there is really no fixed time as to when to start talking business. However, it is best to have a social conversation till the food arrives and then get on with the business details. It is always good to take the client’s lead when conversing or even while going about your meal. Also, it is nice to build a conversation around your guests.
Table Manners: The first thing is first, answering phone calls or checking your phone for those incoming emails and texts is a strict no. It is a devastating distraction. Follow proper dining etiquettes such standing till your clients take the seat and getting up if any member joins in later. Use your cutlery correctly – knife in your right hand and fork/spoon in your left. Also, stick to your own plate and avoid ordering food that can get messy while eating.
Clearing the Tab: If you have invited your client, then you can give the waiter your credit card before the guests arrive to avoid any awkward situations after the meal. Otherwise, make sure you pay quickly and sophistically without disrupting the ongoing conversation.
Make sure you are ready to pay before your client event reaches for his pocket. If you have invited by the client, make a couple of polite offers to pay. Do not haggle with your client and let him pay if he really insists. It is a natural etiquette for the host to clear the tab.
Listening and observing are two of the key factors of a successful business lunch. The conversation is what will make the lunch absolutely worthwhile or a total disaster. Follow basic social manners when it comes to greeting your clients and at the table. Most importantly, use the lunch to your advantage to build an enduring professional relationship. In the long run, having a good image individually in the industry will result in a great brand image for your business.