Whether your business lunch is a buffet served at a meeting over a boardroom table or you are dining with business associates at a restaurant, there are some key factors that will determine its success. Sofood! is dedicated to helping you navigate the business lunch minefield and create long lasting and successful business relationships!
1. Etiquette and Behaviour
It goes without saying, always start with a hand shake, introduce yourself and shake hands with everyone at the table, maintaining good eye contact. If you haven’t met the host before be sure to concentrate on remembering their name. Try to be relaxed but sit up straight and don’t get too comfortable. Never order the most expensive thing on the menu unless you are paying! Stay away from unfamiliar foods to avoid embarrassment and don’t over indulge, no ones wants to do business with a gluttonous pig…Who pays? Well that’s usually the person who invited their guest to lunch in the first place, but it all depends on the type of arrangement. If in doubt, get your card out.
2. Create Rapport
Keep dialogue going, no one likes awkward silences, but it is best to avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion. Ask open questions, but keep conversation light and engaging. Take you’re time eating, make sure you are more interested in interacting with everyone at the table and you are good at listening, people love to talk about themselves, don’t hog the conversation. Even better if you can find a mutual interest, or at the very least remember one fact about each of the people at the table, when you next see or speak to them you will earn massive brownie points and cement a business bond if you can ask them about their cat or how their sons drama play went.
A business lunch meeting is still a meeting. Often, when food is thrown into the equation people forget the purpose of the meeting. Plan ahead, before you arrive set a few objectives that will help you stay on track. What do you need to achieve from this meeting? What questions do you need to ask? Or, what do you need to get across? What opportunity do you need to create?
4. To drink or not to drink?
Take your hosts lead, if they have a glass of wine then allow yourself one, but no more. It’s unlikely alcohol will be provided at a meeting table buffet but at a restaurant there is always that temptation. Remember, you want to stay alert and professional, will you still be top of your game after a few?
5. Stay professional
Don’t get too comfortable, don’t get too personal. Think confidence not cockiness. Being decisive with your food and drink order shows you are a decision maker but over tipping at the end is just showing off. Your manners should be impeccable throughout the meal, I am a firm believer that how you treat people working in the service industry is a big reflection on who you are – if eating out, treat the restaurant as an extension of your office and the restaurant staff with the same respect and courtesy you would you’re own employees or colleagues.
6. Appropriate food
If you are in charge of ordering the food for a business buffet meeting, make sure it is appropriate. Think about the tone of the meeting, make sure the food is good quality and suitable to be eaten during the meeting. Only 12% of event organisers consider the quality of the food they order in for business lunches, a shocking statistic as the quality of the food can make or break a meeting. In a restaurant, the opposite is true, it’s not about the food – which means missing your favourite spaghetti if its too messy! I made an ordering error for dessert once while meeting with a potential investor, my brandy snap basket was too ‘snappy’ and ended up catapulting off my plate and onto his lap, cream and all!
If it is an impromptu buffet ordered in because a meeting is taking longer than expected or has been factored in to the working day, you don’t have much choice. Just try not to get it down your nice white shirt as you have the rest of the day in the office! Again keep in mind the lunch is an extension of your office, so your dress should reflect that. It doesn’t matter if you are meeting at a restaurant on a sunny day, shorts and flip-flops won’t give the right impression.
If you are looking to arrange a business buffet lunch for your organisation, Sofood! will be happy to take the hassle out of it for you. Call Sofood! on 01952 459945 to discuss your requirements or email firstname.lastname@example.org