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Proper Behaviour For A Successful Business Lunch

Proper Behaviour For A Successful Business Lunch

by Morgan JohnesSeptember 24, 2013

The term “business lunch” gained popularity in the mid 80s and has been an integral part of business relationships since then. Appointments with potential customers, investors and business partners in the middle of the day have proven themselves to be one of the best ways of building business relationships.

Business lunch must be treated with nothing but professionalism. You should be also aware of the fact that while eating, a person reveals a great part of their personality and habits, which makes them vulnerable to some extent. In order not to make any mistakes that may embarrass you in front of the other party, you need some preparation before you go on a business lunch.

First, you need to bear in mind the fact that the atmosphere in the restaurant is rather different than the one in the office. Here are some tips how to behave when you are on a business lunch.

The invitation

Before you invite someone, you must be sure that you really need this lunch. Do not think that everyone is just dying to have a free lunch, because business people, especially the ones that take high positions, are overwhelmed by such invitations. Before you invite someone to have a business lunch with you, you need to make sure this does not interfere with their personal schedule. The invitation for the business lunch must meet three specific criteria:

  • You must clearly state what the purpose of this appointment is. After all, you can’t make a business lunch only to have a talk with someone.

  • You must make it clear that you are the host of the meaning. You can’t expect to invite someone on a lunch and make them pay for their half of the bill.

  • Make the invitation in a way that they can refuse without feeling uncomfortable about that. Keep in mind that such meetings are generally uncommon and the other party must not feel obliged to attend the lunch.

Choose an appropriate restaurant

If you don’t know what the preferences of the other party are, do not choose an exotic or a national cuisine. After all, you don’t want to take someone to a sushi bar, when they actually like traditional cuisine. The best choice are classic restaurants. It is also good to choose a restaurant where you have already been to in order to be absolutely sure that the cuisine is great. If the business lunch is going to take place in another city, you must check how things are before you make the appointment.

Try choosing a restaurant with simple, but sophisticated atmosphere and avoid pubs, taverns and inns that could hardly meet the needs of an adequate business lunch.

Make a reservation

This is an absolutely essential component, because it is totally unacceptable of making your potential customer or business partner wait because there are no free tables. Changing the place of the meeting in the last minute is not an option either.

Arrive at the place of your business lunch early

Go to the place where you are supposed to have the meeting at least ten minutes early. Tell the manager that you are expecting someone and ask to show them your table when they arrive.

Turn off your cell phone

Nothing can spoil a business lunch faster that a constantly ringing cell phone, especially if you take the calls. In order to avoid this, simply turn off your phone when your guest arrives. However, if you are expecting an important call, warn the other party that you will need to have a brief conversation and try to make it that way.

Be careful with the drinks

Needless to say, too much drinks could ruin your lunch. If you don’t drink any alcohol and your partner orders some, you should also order a drink. It is absolutely enough to have a sip in the beginning of the meeting.

Choose some food that is easy to eat

Remember that you must make a good impression, so avoid any extravagant culinary adventures. Avoid very smelly foods and foods that you eat with your hands.

Leave the business conversation for the perfect moment

Do not start talking business as soon as you sit down. Start with more general conversation in the beginning. This way you will both feel more relaxed, which may turn out to be quite useful. Stick to neutral conversations and avoid talking about sports, politics, religion, etc.

Be firm when it comes to paying the bill

The rule is that whoever was the “host” of the meeting, they must pay the bill. Everyone know what the etiquette is and they expect you to do it, even if they don’t demonstrate it. Do not agree to share the bill.

Send the other person a letter afterwards

You must send a letter in order to thank for the time your partner or customer spent in your company. Do not expect an invitation in return, because there is not such reciprocity when it comes to business lunch.

Morgan Johnes is passionate freelance blogger. He currently works at and he is really keen on business topics. In his spare time he loves read about business issues and strategies.

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Morgan Johnes