How to Make a Great Impression During a Business Lunch

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

A business lunch provides you with an opportunity to get to know a potential business partner outside a traditional office environment. It is important to treat a business lunch with respect and act courteously to make a great impression and achieve the outcome you want.

Plan Ahead

Before you attend a business lunch, it is important to plan ahead. Select a restaurant that has broad appeal if you don’t know what food your lunch partner likes. Organize the lunch at a time that suits both parties; you need to have enough time to eat your meal and close a possible deal. Know in advance what you want to achieve during the lunch. For example, if you are searching for a new supplier for your online store, is your intention to broker a deal or gather information? To avoid confusion for who is paying for the meal, provide your credit card details to the restaurant in advance.

Display Good Manners

When you take a potential business partner out for lunch, it is import to adhere to basic etiquette. If you have organized the business lunch, make sure you arrive at the restaurant first to welcome your guest. Order food that is light and easy to eat, such as chicken, fish, and salads. Avoid dishes that can make a mess, such as pasta and ribs. Watch what your dining partner orders; order the same number of courses to ensure you eat at roughly the same time. People’s time is valuable; if you need to cancel or reschedule a business lunch, do it well in advance.

Stay Focused

Stay focused on your objectives during the meal. Consider ordering soon after you arrive at the restaurant to avoid getting distracted during the conversation. Don’t discuss business to early in the lunch; make pleasant small talk to build rapport. For example, during the first 10 minutes of the lunch, you could ask about your dining partner’s family or favourite pastime. Make a seamless transition from small talk to introducing topics that you want to raise in an unforced and natural manner. For instance, if your lunch meeting is to speak with a sports store owner about stocking the ice hockey sticks you manufacture, broach the topic after you have made small talk about sports.

Maintain Professionalism

It is prudent to avoid consuming avoid alcohol during a business lunch. Drinking may affect your behaviour and impair your decision-making abilities, which could jeopardize a deal. Avoid controversial or taboo topics in your conversation. If your lunch partner attempts to start a conversation about something that you feel uncomfortable discussing, politely change the subject. Remember that you are the face of your business; portraying a professional image helps create confidence in your brand that could secure a new deal. Making a great impression during a business lunch can help form professional relationships that create new opportunities. Impress dining partners over lunch by planning ahead, displaying good etiquette, staying focused, and remaining professional.

References & Resources

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