Business lunches can be a lot like dates. Oftentimes you are meeting with someone you don’t know very well, you have to dress up, and it’s best to think of a list of conversation topics beforehand. Maybe that last part is just me…regardless, here are a few tips to help you navigate the ins and outs of lunch meetings.
Email/phone ahead to confirm the lunch. There is nothing more annoying than showing up to a scheduled lunch, only to receive a frantic call from the person you’re supposed to meet asking to reschedule after 30 minutes of sitting alone in a restaurant. The waiter will think you have an imaginary lunch date, and you will have wasted at least an hour of your time.
Order the most expensive item on the menu. Be considerate – of the other person if they are paying, or of your company if you are expensing the bill.
Dress at or above the level of the person with whom you are meeting. That is the “Golden Rule” at Conexess, and it goes hand in hand with my own belief that it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Talk with food in your mouth, be on your phone, chew with your mouth open, slurp your soup – basic table manners most definitely apply. Finishing school not required, but please, be polite.
Be direct, but also meaningful when it comes to conversation. You should have an objective for the lunch, whether it is getting to know the person better, or closing a deal. Make sure that you accomplish your lunch goal before going your separate ways.
Arrive unprepared. Research the person with whom you are meeting, and have any questions, papers, contracts, etc. prepared and with you when you get to the lunch. It is also helpful to tell the person you’re meeting what you’ll be wearing that day to streamline the introduction process.
While following this list of do’s and don’ts won’t guarantee a successful meeting, it will undoubtedly get you on the right track. How do you feel about business lunches – love or hate? Any tips to share? Leave a comment below, and let’s go to lunch sometime!