How to Market Yourself in a Business Meal
October 5, 2018
Choice of restaurant
The restaurant must be adapted both to the person you are inviting and to the underlying purpose of the meal. It will be necessary to know, beforehand, if it is the business that prevails or if it is conviviality and relaxation. In any case, choose a quiet place where you can talk without having to raise your voice. A place you know, preferably, so as not to have any unpleasant surprises in terms of comfort, welcome and service.
Be the first to arrive so you can welcome your customers or partners, put them at ease and show your respect for them. Lead the way, take charge and set them up at the table.
Introduce people who do not know each other
If necessary, make presentations in a courteous manner, taking the time to detail the functions of each person and reversing the hierarchical order (from the least “important” person to the most “important”). Introduce your relatives or employees to your customers first, not the other way around.
Be considerate and courteous
Leave the most comfortable seats to women. The bench for example or the square with a clear view of the room or the outside. Make sure to designate each guest’s place around the table by alternating men and women, and reserving the place in front of you for your main interlocutor.
Turn off your phone
To avoid being distracted by a ringing or vibration, turn off your smartphone completely. This type of meal requires total concentration.
Children are taught this from an early age: don’t put your elbows on the table and stand up straight. Do not slouch on your seat, leave your hands visible (do not put it on your lap or under the table) and do not stretch your legs.
Choose a Menu
By choosing a Menu (rather than à la carte dishes), you can be sure that all guests will be served at the same pace and that the meal will not be too long. Suggest a Menu, while leaving your interlocutor some flexibility and approving his choices to put him at ease. Avoid dishes in sauce and other complicated dishes to eat.
Choose the wine
You invite, so it’s up to you to choose the wine. However, ask for the agreement of the whole table beforehand. It is then up to you to fill the glasses each time they are empty. If you are not a wine lover, ask your guest for subtle advice and accept a small amount of wine in your glass, even if it means not drinking it.
Toast or not?
It is customary not to drink at a business meal. You can simply raise your glass slightly (20cm maximum above the table) and look at your guests as you greet them.
There is no need to wait too long to start the subject that brought you around this table. After the usual banalities and while waiting for the first dishes, simply engage in conversation or negotiation. Without being too brutal, always with tact and sensitivity, looking your interlocutor in the eyes, with a relaxed face and standing up straight.
To be the conductor
Once everyone has been served, don’t throw a happy “Bon appétit” at the table, but simply start your plate.
The napkin should remain on your lap or chair if you leave the table. It should not appear around the neck or on the table. Avoid saucing the plate with bread.
To settle the bill, it is best to leave the table at coffee time to settle the bill discreetly. Alternatively, have the note sent to you at the office. In any case, avoid having it seen by your guests.
Leaving the restaurant
Once the meal and coffee are over, warmly thank your guests for their time and slowly get up from the table. Your guests will follow.
Thank a second time
Be sure to thank your guests a second time after leaving them. Either by email, SMS or post and plan a next meeting if necessary.