Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Don't just survive...excel at any business lunch

A business lunch can be an odd situation for any #workinggirl.  Not quite a business meeting and certainly not a  leisurely meal with your co-workers, proper etiquette can often be a mystery at this type of meeting.  Here are a few tips, not just to survive, but to excel.

What to order.  This is not the time to experiment with a new dish.  Stick to what you know you like and unless you are at a fastfood restaurant, order something that you do not have to eat with your hands.  It makes conversation awkward and can get messy.  Go with a salad, soup, or a lunch size entree.  Avoid the fish tacos, burger, or sandwiches.

Know your objective.  Whether you are leading the business conversation or on the receiving end, it's important to know your purpose.  If you are making a pitch, you really aren't at lunch to eat, you are there to sell your idea, so put the fork down and focus on the conversation.  However, don't overwhelm the others where they feel they cannot eat while you talk.  You need to find the right balance.

Making it personal.  If this meeting was just all business, you probably would've met somewhere else.  So take the time to get to know or catch up with associates.  Ask them about their personal interests, their family (especially if they have kids, people love to talk about their kids), and what's going on with their company.

To drink or not to drink.  Having an alcoholic drink during the day can be a tricky one.  If you are leading the conversation, it's important to follow their lead.  The last thing you want to do is to make anyone feel uncomfortable, one way or the other.  When in doubt, skip the alcohol, but realize that if you are dining with those where culturally drinking during a business meeting is expected, not having a drink might also be offensive.  Of course if you do not drink at all, for whatever reason, you should absolutely refrain from any group pressure.

Thanks for the free lunch.  Like the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  If someone offers to take you to lunch to discuss their product or service and you have zero interest, do not take the lunch. Leading someone on doesn't just apply in a personal relationship, it happens in a professional relationship too.

Cheryl Reynolds
College Girl to Working Girl

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