Gone are the days when business meetings were only held within the four corners of an office. Today, you can bring these conventions to a more luxurious venue to boost its effectiveness in achieving your business goals.
A business lunch meeting is an effective tool in establishing a great impression with potential investors, partners, and clients while learning more about them. This is the very reason why the term “power lunch” was coined.
Whether you’re meeting with clients, investors, partners, or employees, a business lunch should always be done with thorough planning and preparation.
From booking a table and inviting your guest to bringing up business talk, here are seven tips on how to be a gracious host before and during a lunch meeting:
Business lunches are much like romantic dates. Aside from dressing up appropriately, you also need to invite your guests and make preparations to keep them comfortable by:
=> Making a professional invitation
When inviting guests to a business lunch, you must choose your words carefully. A good invitation should:
- Clearly indicate the purpose of the lunch meeting, leaving no room for confusion or misunderstandings.
- Ensure that the guests know that you’re the host and that you’re paying for the meals.
- Make it easy for the invitee to graciously decline without making him uncomfortable.
=> Selecting an appropriate venue
When choosing a venue for your business meeting, it is best to pick a place you’ve been to for a couple of times. This way, you’ll know that the food and service are topnotch.
If you’re traveling out of town for a business lunch, research about the best restaurants online before the trip. Check the website and read reviews of past customers, particularly those written by people who have conducted business lunches in the place.
It is also worth noting that every person has a different taste, so you must make sure you know what your guest likes. If in case you cannot learn this ahead of the meeting, you should play it safe and avoid ethnic or exotic restaurants.
Fine dining, waterfront restaurants, and steakhouses for your business lunch are the safest choices. Just remember to ask if your guest has any dietary preferences or food allergies to avoid difficult situations later.
=> Do a pre-meeting reconnaissance
Even if you’ve tried dining at a restaurant before, it won’t hurt to do some reconnaissance before the meeting. Head to the venue you picked and determine if it has the right vibe for your meeting.
You should also check if there is enough privacy to discuss business stuff without getting too much interruption. If possible, seek out a private room where you can convene about sensitive matters.
During the Business Lunch Meeting
Now that the invitation has been made and the place of the meeting is set, it is time for you to create a comfortable and enjoyable dining experience for your guests. To do so, you must:
=> Arrive earlier than your guests
As the host, it is important that you be the first to arrive at the venue of the business meeting. The best way to ensure this is to set your arrival at least ten minutes earlier than your scheduled appointment.
Once you’re there, wait for your guest at the bar or table and tip off the hostess to be on the lookout. The extra time also allows you to get some more last-minute preparations done, such as:
- Let the waiter know about the business meeting so he can keep the interruptions at the bare minimum.
- In case a guest is in a hurry, you should make sure that the waiter hands over the bill the moment you finish your meals.
- Even better, give him your (or the company’s) credit card before your guest arrives. This way, your meals can be paid for right away, the bill will never arrive at the table, and there won’t be any confusion as to who’s paying.
=> Turn off your phone
When dining with a potential client or investor, you must strictly follow professional etiquette. This means you should turn off your phone and keep it away throughout the lunch meeting to ensure that your guest has your undivided attention.
If you’re expecting an urgent call, let him know as soon as you get seated. Don’t forget to set your phone on vibrate. Once it goes off, take a quick glance and silence it immediately if it isn’t the urgent call you were expecting.
In case your guest is using his phone, wait until he’s done before proceeding with the conversation.
=> Let your guests sit down and order first
As the host, you must let your guests get the first pick of the seat, so they’ll feel comfortable. If they hesitate, gesture towards the better seats to let them know that they can sit in those.
You should also let your guests order first, then copy the number of courses they asked for. This will ensure that you eat at the same time as they do, avoiding that awkward situation when only one of you is still eating.
=> Build rapport before bringing up business talk
Never start with business talk as soon as you and your guests sit down. Make sure that you have a bit of casual talk first to help your guests feel at ease.
Casual conversations can also give you the chance to learn more about your guests’ personalities. Just make sure to keep it within easy topics like hobbies, sports, and non-controversial news. Avoid making it too personal, especially if it’s the first time you get acquainted with each other.
Also, remember to be sincere. Even though you’re at a business meeting, you have to make the conversation real. This will show your guests how much you respect them and would also reflect who you are as a person.
A Final Word
Business meetings can make or break your relationship with potential clients, partners, and investors. Make sure that you plan them well and execute them in the right way with the help of the above tips.