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Etiquette 101: Planning and Hosting a Business Meal

Etiquette 101: Planning and Hosting a Business Meal

Beth Strong Taber | Excelle

You will find yourself attending many business dining events during your career and you may find that you are (or will become) the host of your own business meetings, as well. The key to a successful and smooth get-together over a meal lies in your pre-planning.

The Initial Planning

Generally, lunch and breakfast are the more common meals around which business gatherings are planned; lunch being the preferred. If you are inviting clients or colleagues to dine with you over a business meal, making sure that all is taken care of ahead of time will allow you to concentrate on the important aspects of your meeting and relationship-building; with no unnecessary distractions.

After determining the type of meeting (breakfast or lunch) you would like to conduct — and that a one or two hour block of time will be sufficient (as you do not want to monopolize a table for longer than that) — then you can determine the place and time.

Who will need to be present? Will it be you and your client? Will it be you, your client and another colleague — or more? After deciding on the number, invite those you would like to attend by phone or email. You may want to offer them a choice of establishments in the invitation, as they may have a strong personal or dietary preference. If they know that their comfort is important to you and know that their needs have been taken into consideration, your relationship will be stronger from the outset.

If the restaurants that you initially have in mind are popular, you may want to make reservations at a few immediately — before inviting your guests. Once they have informed you that the day and time will work, confirm your reservation and make sure to cancel any others that you made, but no longer need. At the time that you make the reservation, if you are familiar with the restaurant, you may ask if it is possible to request a particular table or area; one that you know will be conducive to business talk.

A day or two prior to the meeting, confirm with your guests and re-confirm with the restaurant. If your guest lives out of town and is unfamiliar with your city, it might be appreciated if you send a link to the restaurant’s website in an email. This way they can investigate it ahead of time, become familiar with the menu and get directions, if necessary, as well.

Next Page: Handling the Bill

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