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Business Dining Etiquette


Dear Ms. Etiquette,
I am a little confused on how I am supposed to greet business associates from another company for an important meeting at a restaurant. I picked the location for the convenience and impeccable service but am wondering if I made a mistake since the setting is different than an office setting. Please advise.

Dear Business Diner,
Business meals, like most rituals, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The coordinating with the restaurant and alerting the restaurant manager that you are hosting an important meeting and paying for the meal with a credit card should be the first on the list as well as any special needs or attention to detail such as seating, parking or private dining room. You should also arrange to pay the gratuity or guest parking fees beforehand as well.

The actual getting together also requires special attention. Greet your guests at the restaurant entrance or directly inside the door. Never be seated or waiting at the table when your guests arrive and always greet with a firm handshake. Make sure everyone stands up for the formal introductions. Business cards (which should be neat, not doggy eared or dirty) should be exchanged if meeting for the first time. They should be easily accessible so you don’t have to dig through your pockets or search through your purse or briefcase. Present your card in a relaxed manner, don’t rush. Each person should repeat the names of the others while offering a handshake and a brief pleasantry, such as, “How do you do, Charlie.”

At the table: As a host, you should mention the purpose of the gathering. Something like: “I know that we’re here to discuss my company’s capability to meet your delivery requirements, and I look forward to reaching an outcome that pleases all of us. But first, let’s enjoy what promises to be a delicious meal.”

During the meal, make small talk but avoid discussing your personal life, sex, politics, or religion. After everyone has finished eating, the host can get down to business. There is no need for the ceremonial attempt to pick up the tab at the end of the meal if you have made arrangements ahead of time. Leave with your guests, thanking them for their time. It is not necessary, although a nice gesture to follow up with the guests via phone or email the next day.

Irma Wolcott

Irma Wolcott

Irma Wolcott is the owner of Fun With Etiquette. Call her at 956-492-4762 for more information. Website: e-Mail her at: [email protected]

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