At the outset we have observed that invariably business luch is hosted mostly by the marketers or sellers and dinners are hosted by a corporate company to meet or renew contacts with their entire cutomer groups of different Products. The dinners also facilitate interaction between managers and executives of different companies to seek or give information about relevant products and also know each other. While the host (marketer) has the benefit of knowing many new faces who have taken charge at different companies and also introduce their top bosses to some key manages of various organizations. Working or Business lunch is more or less a one to one meeting and in most cases it ends up closing a deal.
Your social grooming is not over until you master the etiquette of corporate lunches / dinners. Knowing what to do when meeting a prospective client for lunch or going for a high profile corporate dinner can be confusing. And you really can’t afford to ignore this as it forms a part and parcel of your corporate life. So, here are a few pointers that will help you make a good impression.
Show your complete presence:
Well, you may be at the dinner table with a client/business associate you are not exactly fond of. That does not mean that you just go through the motions. Limit glancing across the room and try to be genuinely interested in the conversation.
This sounds silly but many people still turn up late for corporate dinners/lunches. Do not push your time to the last minute before leaving the office, you will be late. Take some reading material with you, sit in the lobby, read and relax. You can use this time to plan the conversation.
It is best to switch off your mobile before entering the restaurants or else excuse yourself for taking a call. No client likes to be left alone when s/he has been invited for a lunch/dinner.
Talk to your associate about business related or social issues during the lunch/dinner. If you are in the company of a high profile person then keep your sentences short as the other person may not relate to your part of the conversation.
If you have invited a client, you must foot the bill no matter how well off the other person is. Also, if you are meeting with some one who is giving you valuable advice, it is must on your part to foot the bill. After all, that person has spared his/her time to help you.
Calling out loudly, guffawing or slapping your fellow diner’s back only reflects your lack of etiquette. And we need not warn you that slurping or burping will do irrevocable damage to your image.
Maintain eye contact:
The rule of maintaining eye contact while talking also applies to a business lunch/dinner. Do not talk to your fellow diner as you are looking down at your plate or eating. Pause for a while reply to the person and resume eating.
Don’t forget to shake hands at the beginning and end of the conversation. This holds true even for woman executives. Also, think of an opening statement when you shake hands for the first time. This makes a good impression. Always use the guest’s first name at the start/end of the opening line.
For example the Japanese Trading Companies operating in India in the 90s used to host large parties inviting all their customers in that city, whenever thee was new General Manager taking over and this was also served the purpose as a farewell to the outgoing General Manager normally going back to HQ in Japan to take up a higher position. This generated a lot of goodwill and also served as introducing the customers to the new boss.