Many business deals are made over lunch. They can be a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, but it's all about being prepared and staying in control. Your negotiations could depend not only on the information you deliver, but the impression you give as well. From what you order to paying for the bill, there are several rules to keep in mind when you're going on a business lunch.
Ask in advance
If possible, ask your guest out to lunch in advance instead of last minute. It'll show you have respect for his schedule while also allowing him plenty of time to get together any materials he has to bring.
The lunch hour is extremely valuable. Many would rather get done what they need to during that time than sit down and actually eat a meal, so if you agree to a business lunch, you better be prepared. Show up without all of your materials and you're going to severely irritate your guest. He's going to feel as if he gave you one of his most important hours of the day and all you did was waste it.
Don't talk with your mouth full
One of the most awkward business lunches I've ever been on involved a guy who was in such a rush he was talking with his mouth full. It was disgusting and made me unable to concentrate on much of what he was saying. Take small bites, chew quick and keep your mouth closed if there's food in it. You don't want to accidentally shoot a wad of food right at your guest.
Don't eat anything with your hands
When you're on a business lunch, eat with utensils rather than your hands. I don't mean just ribs, chicken wings or sandwiches, I'm also talking about picking a morsel off your plate with your fingers. Not only does it increase your chances of dropping something on your clothing, but it also doesn't look very appealing.
Dress to impress
Lunch isn't the most formal meal of the day, but that doesn't mean you should arrive dressed in sweatpants and your old college hoodie. Throw on some business casual clothes, make sure your hair is neat and do a check for wrinkles or pet fur on your outfit. Even if you've known your guest for awhile, you should still consider it a professional business meeting.
Expect to pay
Whether you initiated the lunch or the other person did, always expect to pay. However, if you were the one who offered up the invitation, definitely whip out your credit card before the other person has the chance.
Don't drink too much
Not drinking too much should go without saying, but you'd be surprised how many get a little too tipsy during a business lunch. Have one drink, two at a maximum, and make sure to avoid shots. Don't forget to actually eat if you're drinking so you don't get lightheaded or sick.
The quality of the presentation you give plays a huge part in the success of the business lunch, but your actions do as well. You want to make sure you come off as personable, professional and reliable, not as someone who doesn't have himself together. Keep yourself in check and you'll increase the chances of things going successfully.
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