because a business function takes place outside the corporate boardroom, never
assume it's not about work! Professional breakfasts, power lunches and networking
functions are all business meetings in dressed-up settings. So next time you're
scheduled to meet outside the office, keep the following tips in mind and resist
the temptation to totally let your hair down.
a meeting over a meal, think about the agenda and the timing. A business breakfast
should be reserved for urgent topics and last no more than an hour. If you're
dragging someone out of bed early, make sure you choose a convenient restaurant
and keep the small talk to a minimum.
Power lunches are better for more casual meetings, like entertaining
clients or meeting new contacts. Make sure you schedule two hours though. An
hour isn't enough time to order, eat and strategize. And no matter how casual
the setting, remember you're still there to discuss business so don't drown
in small talk. The best time to broach the purpose of the meeting is after the
appetizers have been served.
If you need to meet with a business associate after work but wish
to avoid cocktails, try tea. Tea is a great alternative if your company has
concerns about mixing booze with business. And without alcohol in the mix, meetings
tend to run faster and more smoothly.
Try to restrict business dinners if at all possible. Most of us
spend too much time at work as is, and a business dinner really encroaches on
everyone's personal time. If you do schedule a business dinner, have something
relevant to address. Small talk is fine until you order, but once the waiter's
left, move on to your business discussion.
Of course good
table manners are an asset whenever you eat, but they're imperative at a business
function. If you're ordering à la carte, don't choose the most expensive
thing on the menu. No matter how good it sounds, the rack of lamb with a side
of lobster is probably overdoing it. Unless your host sticks to a side salad,
try not to order anything significantly more expensive than him or her. If no
one else orders an appetizer, resist the urge. If you don't, you'll hold up
the entire meal. Plus it's never pleasant eating when your companions are drooling
and glaring at you. When your food arrives wait until everyone has been served
before you begin eating. And never complain about the restaurant, food or service.
Picking up the Check
According to etiquette experts, the party who benefits most from
the business association should pay - regardless of which party extended
the invitation. If it's not clear who benefits most from the relationship, the
party who extended the invitation should pay. If you're really suave, make arrangements
for the check before the bill reaches your table. This clears up any potentially
awkward situations. If you're going out for a business dinner with a group of
colleagues, the most senior executive at the table should deal with the check.
Industry events can be great for making contacts, but unless you
act professionally you could come away from the evening with nothing more than
a stomachache from too many off-season shrimp. Even if your ultimate goal in
attending an industry function is to increase sales, resist the urge to make
a sales pitch on the night. It's unprofessional and incredibly annoying to other
Circulate as much as possible. Spend around five minutes with each person, and
make sure you devote as much time to their line of business as you do to your
own. If you see a potential synergy, let the other person know you'd be interested
in continuing your discussion another time. But don't thrust your business card
on every person who crosses your path.
events usually include a buffet. The key here is to think casual snacking, not
an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. When you're waiting in the buffet line, don't
even think of pushing ahead. It's obnoxious and unprofessional. Plus you're
missing a great opportunity to network (which is the whole purpose of the evening).
Once you reach the food, resist the urge to fill your plate to the breaking
point. Even if the lobster is to die for and the caviar cost more than your
first car, loading up looks really tacky. Always use the utensils provided and
learn from Seinfeld's George Castanza's mistake and don't double dip
put some sauce on your plate instead.
We've all heard at least one office-party horror story: the
accountant who got drunk and passed out in his soup or the sales associate who
dominated the karaoke machine with her rendition of every Carpenters song ever
written. Even though it contains the word "party", don't get confused.
You're still at work, so it pays to keep your wild side in check and these tips
||Wear an appropriate outfit. It may be boring, but you'll have
other opportunities to strut your stuff when your boss isn't around.
||Be sure to mingle it's still a networking opportunity
even if you're with your colleagues.
||Don't bring uninvited guests. If your partner is invited,
it will say so on the invitation.
||Resist the temptation to discuss controversial topics. Debating
politics, sex and religion can create rifts that last indefinitely.
||Don't drink too much.
||Don't be the last to leave.