Throughout your career, you may need to attend many business dinners for different reasons. Business dinners give us opportunities for networking and planning, but at the same time, they can be tricky if you break some generally accepted rules. In this article, I prepared some basic tips for you. Check them before you go to your next business dinner.
Pick the right restaurant
You should know your business partner’s preferences. If he is a vegan, you can’t invite him to a steakhouse. When you choose a restaurant, avoid anything too loud or crowded, because, above all, you need to have a conversation. Always pick tidy and decent places with nice atmosphere and excellent food.
Make a reservation
It makes you look unprofessional if you and your partners have to wait for a table because you didn’t take care of it in advance. When you make a reservation, ask for a quiet table and mention all the other requirements if needed. Arrive 15 minutes earlier and make sure all your requests were taken into account.
Organize a seating plan
If you are a guest, wait until your host offers you a sit. If he doesn’t, wait until he sits and choose the best position for easy conversation. If you are the host and you go to a meeting with a big group, you should think about seating arrangements in advance. Generally, the higher the position a person occupies the better seat he gets and so forth. It is a good practice to put someone from Company A next to Company B followed by Company A so people get to know each other and learn from each other.
Basically, you can wear the same things you wear to the office. If you are going to meet a very important client or attend a more formal business dinner, you can dress up a little. Obviously, it depends on the niche of your partner as well.
Make good introductions
You should always introduce new parties to each other. At the beginning of a meeting, you mention a name, a position of a person as well as some general information. In case you don’t know all people from the other company, the most senior person will introduce his team. If you are a guest and your host doesn’t introduce you, you should briefly introduce yourself.
Don’t show up hungry
You should have a snack or a meal beforehand. Therefore, you can eat in moderation and still focus on the business part of the dinner.
Keep your phone in your pocket
Turn off your phone and put it in a pocket or bag. It shows that the other person is important enough for your full attention. Stay focused on your partner and your business. Checking the phone all the time is simply rude.
Greet every person with a firm handshake and smile, not only the boss and higher-ups. When you are greeting people, it is very important to stand up. Otherwise, you will look awkward and someone even may consider it disrespectful.
Don’t order alcohol first
If you are a host, offer other people a drink. If all of them decline alcohol, it is better to do the same. If you are attending, you can order a drink after your host does. You shouldn’t have more than one drink. In case it is a part of the interview, abstain from alcohol even if your interviewer orders a drink or offers you one. Don’t get drawn into drinking and don’t push others to drink.
Be smart about your orders
Never order the most expensive dishes or too many of them, it may look like you take advantage of your host’s generosity. Also, avoid messy foods that you have to eat with your fingers. If you have any allergies, check the menu in advance so you won’t be looking picky or indecisive.
Decide how to pay the bill
If you, as a host or a guest, want to pay the bill, you should do this right. Ideally, take a server to the side, inform him that you are going to pay for everything and maybe give him a credit card so he can just charge it. Another option is to take the bill discreetly when it comes and put your credit card inside of it without being showy. You should thank the host if he pays for everything. If you have to split the bill, that is also fine.
Even though tipping can depend on the culture you are in, you should always tip a good server. Also, be polite to all of them. If you talk to a server in a rude way, your business partner will think you have some problems with people management and may refuse to do business with you.
Alessandro Rocco Pietrocola is an entrepreneur and investor based in London and operating mainly in Europe, Asia and Oceania with main focus on UK, Baltic Countries, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East and New Zealand as area of interest! At the moment is the CEO of Astorts Group. He is an UK FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) Approved Person and is has great experience as director of regulated companies. He uses to dedicate part of his life to inspire others and help them achieve the most out of their life. Since he was 20, he had successfully founded and managed several companies operating in the field of management consulting, wealth management and fintech. He loves travelling, he is a cigars lover, an amateur golfer and a dapper man.