When it comes to discussing new projects or pitching to new clients, it is often more productive over lunch – whether you’re getting to know each other or sealing the deal - when you find some common ground.
However, if you’ve been to as many as we have, you’ll also know they can easily become counterproductive – as attendees get caught up in non-business related discussions or even worse, have to grin and bear an awkward silence.
Ensure your business lunches are as effective as they can be with these five simple tips, courtesy of YFSMagzine.com.
1. The meeting organiser leads the conversation
When sitting down to eat, don’t rush straight to business, take the time to get to know the other party and socialise. A good rule of thumb is to socialise until the food arrives, or after you initially order your main course. Chances are you'll have more in common than you might think.
2. Consider food ordering etiquette
Don’t come to lunch hungry, remember you are here first and foremost to pitch or discuss business with the client. Depending on the formality of the meeting, decide whether to go or forgo appetisers and desserts before sitting down at the restaurant. By sticking to a plan, it will eliminate any awkwardness of ordering.
3. Stick to the agenda and be organised
Just because it is lunch, doesn't mean you don't need to prep; it’s vital to be well-prepared on what points you will discuss. Do your research beforehand and the meeting will go smoother. When your food comes, get down to business. Remember the other half to a great business lunch is listening to your client. You don’t want to talk them to death or scare them away. A good rule of thumb is to talk as much as you listen. Engage with your client and know their ideas and concerns.
4. Mind your manners.
Being cordial is one thing, and talking with your mouth full is another. You don’t want a client to turn down a proposal because they were disgusted with your manners and not your pitch.
5. The meeting organiser generally picks up the check
As the meeting organiser, it’s your job to pick up the check. On the rare occasion when your guest is insistent on paying, don’t argue - let them have the satisfaction of paying. Though this signifies the end of the lunch date, know how to close the right and polite way by stating what the next step is for both parties.