Dinners are a strategic way for people to get to know their potential business associates. The way you handle yourself before, during, and after dinner speaks volumes about your professionalism, character, and social awareness.
However, it can get difficult navigating through the endless aspects of business dining. Which drink to order? How much bread is too much bread? Should you wear a dress or a pantsuit?
These tips should help you make a great impression on your host at your next business dinner.
Even the most veteran business women and men can make the rookie mistake of arriving to a dinner hungry. This will cause you to focus more on food and less on conversation. Make sure you have a small snack like a piece of fruit or a protein bar as you make your way towards the restaurant. This will make sure that you are ready to talk shop with whoever you are meeting with.
Another good tip is to look up the restaurant’s website to make sure you have chosen the right attire. Get a feel for what the appropriate outfit is by checking on social media and see what past patrons have worn while posting at the restaurant. If you see a lot of chic formal wear go that way, if everyone seems to be taking a more casual approach, you’re probably in the clear to dress down a bit.
With that being said, it is better to overdress than get caught wearing jeans at a black-tie and gown affair. Consider formal wear hire if you don’t have the right kind of clothes. Finally, make sure you plan ahead and arrive on time. Likewise, if your host is running late, wait at least 15 minutes before calling them.
You should remove the napkin from your table and place it on your lap as soon as you sit down. Not only is this the polite thing to do, it also helps you prepare your new dress or skirt.
On top of that, take note of what others are ordering. Generally, having alcohol at a business meeting is not recommended. You should consider ordering a club soda or still water. This leaves you open to order alcohol later. If your host encourages you to drink, make sure to limit yourself to a glass of wine or beer. This way, you can be sure you’re looking social while also not looking unprofessional.
Steer clear of ordering trouble foods or the most expensive things on the menu. Let the host pick up their fork and begin eating before you start. There is always a chance that the host may be waiting for other guests to be seated.
It is rude to dip food straight into shared sauce boats. Wait for your turn and spoon a little on your plate. You shouldn’t blow on hot food either. Wait for it to cool down. Make sure you don’t slurp or make any other funny eating noises that might be off-putting to the others at the table.
Once you are done eating, rest your cutlery correctly so that the server knows to pick up your plate. You should keep pace with the host and others on the dinner table. Try to finish your meal along with the host.
When the check comes, make a move to pay it. The host may be obligated to pay for the meal, but it is polite if you offer to take care of it. Make sure you thank the host at the end of the meal by name and shake their hands. Maintaining steady, polite, and friendly eye contact is a good way to show that you are trustworthy.