Everything You Need to Know about Business Meals
Power lunches and formal dinners are a way of life for anyone climbing the corporate ladder. Whether you’re trying to sign a new client or clinch a promotion (not to mention the corner office) you’ve been eyeing for months, a great meal has always been a tried-and-tested method of impressing the right people.
But if you want to make a good impression, you need to have good etiquette. It doesn’t matter whether you’re grabbing a quick lunch with colleagues or impressing your bosses at a four-star Changi Airport dining establishment, you need to project an image of strength and professionalism. But dining etiquette, with all its rules and regulations, can be quite tricky.
Here are a few dining tips to help you make a great impression at a business meal.
- Accept all invitations
If you’re invited to a business meal by a client or a superior, it’s always best to accept the invitation if you can. By saying no, you’re potentially turning down an opportunity to make a positive impression or grow within your company. Is it time to step outside the comfort zone and go for it!?
- Start off on a positive note
Once everyone has gathered at the table, make a point to shake hands with every person. Don’t forget to introduce yourself if meeting someone for the first time. If you were invited to the dinner, remain standing until the most senior member of the table sits. Take your cues from the host: wait until they move their napkin before placing yours on your lap.
- Follow the host’s lead
The most senior member of the table usually dictates the food and mood of the table. Since they’re usually the first person to order, you might want to follow their lead and choose something similar off the menu. If it’s a lunchtime, perhaps order something light rather than a three course feast! Ask the host for recommendations if they’re a regular at the restaurant.
If you have dietary restrictions due to allergies or religious concerns, inform the waiter ahead of time. Biggest tip – stay away from messy food to lessen the chances of a dining mishap!.
- Avoid controversial topics
Business meals, more often than not, are an opportunity for two parties to get to know each other better. But you need to conduct yourself as you would at the office. You can let loose a little, but always stay professional. Open the conversation with light topics such as hobbies, family, and travel. Once you’ve gotten a feel for the conversation, you can then move on to more pressing matters. Don’t interrupt and consider the power of asking open-ended questions to make the conversation more interesting.
Business meals are an important part of any professional’s life. Done right, you can build new relationships and enjoy rewards. But if something goes sideways, you risk offending important people and potentially damaging your career.