Meetings over lunch (or at a bar) can be challenging and unproductive. Lots of distractions, hard to get on topic, casual environment, etc.
Here are 10 suggestions if this is challenging for you:
- Act as if you are not in a restaurant – behave as if you are meeting in their office. The restaurant is just a place where there are a lot of people there to bring you things like food and beverage.
- Respect the hostess, server, valet, etc. They are your assistants in this situation!
- Arrive before the client(s) and make sure you get a table away from the center of restaurant.
- Do not sit at the bar unless there are just 2 of you. Even then do everything you can to not sit at the bar.
- Don’t hesitate while ordering anything. Know the menu before you arrive and don’t waste time ordering (you wouldn’t waste precious time if you were in the client’s conference room selecting water or Coke).
- Keep your eyes on the client. Do not allow them to wonder.
- Sit up straight and face your client head on. You will appear serious, interested and focused completely on them – just as you would in their conference room.
- If in a bar situation, drink in moderation or less! Know your limits and don’t get close to your boundary line. If you can get by without drinking at all do it.
- Order your own drink – don’t let the client order for you or say “I’ll have what she’s having.” That statement makes you appear weak plus you know what you can handle and her drink may not be it!
- Focus on their business and their success – it is a business lunch even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Take notes on a napkin, have a productive lunch meeting and make every minute remark-able.