Entrepreneurs will need to entertain and will often be entertained. Dining etiquette is very important. We give you some tips…
As an entrepreneur, in the process of growing your business, you will need to meet people – be it prospective clients, people from government agencies, stakeholders, prospective partners, etc… Chances are you will be invited out for a meal…or you may take a prospective client out to a restaurant for lunch or dinner. Following dining etiquette during a business meal is a must; how you conduct yourself will go a long way in creating an impression on the person or people you are dining with. How you behave before, during and after a meal can reveal a lot about you – your character, your professionalism and your social skills.
Irrespective of whether you are hosting the meal or you are the guest, it goes without saying that you must be on time. That is a courtesy you need to extend to the person you are meeting. And you need to dress well. This of course depends on where you are meeting. If you are meeting over a coffee at a casual café, you could dress in jeans and a button-down shirt or a dress. If you are meeting in a fine-dining restaurant or a five-star hotel, dress a bit more formally.
- Make sure to invite the person/s well in advance so they can plan their schedules accordingly.
- Ideally, pick a restaurant you are familiar with – where you know the ambience, the service and the quality of the food.
- Make sure to reserve a table in advance. You don’t want to show up there with a prospective client and find that the place is packed and you don’t have a table.
- Try to host the lunch or dinner at a quiet place because you don’t want your meeting drowned out by a noisy kitty party or children running around screaming.
- Do reconfirm with your guest the previous day.
- Tell the manager or maître-de at the restaurant that you will be paying so that they do not place the checque in front of the guest.
If you are the guest
- Etiquette demands that if you are early, you do not seat yourself. Wait in the lobby or outside the restaurant till the host arrives.
- Don’t order the most expensive dish on the menu, or the most expensive wine if you are having a drink. Ideally, ask your host to order for you.
- Wait for your host to start eating and only then dig in.
- Make a move to pay the bill. Your host, ideally, would tell you that the meal is on him/her. At that point, don’t insist and embarrass your host. Accept the offer graciously.
- Don’t forget to thank your host. It’s a simple courtesy that goes a long way in creating a favorable impression.
Some dining etiquette rules
- Once you are seated, place the napkin on your lap. When you are through, fold the napkin and place it to the left of your plate.
- While I’m not going into details on table settings, if it is a formal dinner with courses, use the cutlery on the outside for each course and work your way in.
- Do not eat with your mouth open or talk while eating. Do ensure that you chew silently. Do not slurp your soup noisily.
- Don’t gobble your food. Eat slowly, pace your meal.
- Always wait till everyone is served before you start eating.
- Keep your cell phone on silent. Do not answer calls unless it’s something urgent. And if so, excuse yourself, ask permission from your host or guest and then take the call. And make it a quick one. It goes without saying that a business lunch or dinner is not a time to check social media!
- Do not order liquor. If you are a guest and your host insists, or if your guest likes to have a drink, then limit yourself to one. Just one.
- Don’t order ‘trouble’ foods’ – stuff that is messy to eat like spaghetti or a juicy burger or something that will get stuck in your teeth. Also, if you are uncomfortable using cutlery, try to order something that doesn’t require too much of cutting.
Just follow these simple tips for a trouble-free meal irrespective of whether you are hosting it or going as a guest. If you are doing this in a foreign country, do read up on the rules of etiquette in their country and try to abide by them.