Client Meetings: 7 Tips for Business Lunch Etiquette

Client meetings can make or break your business. A meeting over a meal can be even more daunting. Here are a few tips to execute a business lunch successfully.


Time is Money and Business

Management and business experts never shy away from telling this secret: practice punctuality. Being at the meeting on time or even a few minutes ahead of the stipulated time is advised. If you do not value your customer's time, you lose point. Thus, NEVER ever make a client wait for you.


Planning Before Hand

Give the client the 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

Offering a handshake and greeting with a good afternoon is  good etiquette. Thank your client for taking time for the meeting. Unless you know the person you are having the meeting with, avoid coming up with witty one liners. If you are hosting a large group from a single firm, greet the senior member first 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, 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.


Coming to the Point

Broach and venture into the actual serious business talk as the desserts or coffee come in. Knowing dining basics-  fork and spoon handling and when to take your napkin- would be an added advantage. Further, if the customer has wine it is okay for you to have a little wine. However, being intoxicated at such a meeting is a huge no-no in business lunch etiquette.

Kill Bill

Another problem area in business lunch etiquette- who pays. Well, it has to be you, obviously. There are many ways to make payment discreetly. Before you take your seat, ask the waiter to give you the bill directly.  Also, 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. 


Parting Shot

Finally, give a good tip. Walk the guest out and ensure that he is comfortably on his way. Remember: You should never leave before the client. In business lunch etiquette, doing so would be a major faux pas.

It is also a good idea to send a follow up thank you note to the guest even if you haven't been able to strike a deal. It could be a hand written note or an email for his graciousness for having given you time. This will definitely leave a positive impression.

I hope that you find this useful and have great business luncheons! 

By Medha Godbole
Image by Alexandros Papathanasiou



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