The way you conduct yourself around people while at a business dinner could help seal an important deal or quickly shut things down. Even if you have been a top executive for years and conducting business travel, there will always be business dinners that are uncomfortable for one reason or another. By knowing who all will be in attendance and what the primary topics of conversation will be, you have a much better opportunity to prepare. Keeping the following in mind, you can make any business dinner a huge success.
Important Things to Know
- The person who hosts the business dinner carries a lot of the responsibility for its success. For instance, if you invite people to dinner with the goal of discussing business, you are responsible for choosing the restaurant, paying the bill, handling the tip, and so on. More than likely you have an assistance that will do much of the work for you, but you are still seen as the “host.” Go prepared with a credit card in case the preplanned payment falls through, make sure there is a wide range of menu options, and, overall, handle the event with sophistication. If you are traveling together, hire a driver from a professional limo company to take you to the restaurant so your business talks can start en route.
- For many business dinners, alcohol flows freely. While there is nothing wrong in having a glass of wine or a cocktail and perhaps after-dinner drink, be careful not to go overboard. Alcohol and business simply do not mix. You want everyone to be lucid enough to make sound business decisions.
- Never take a phone call while at a business dinner. Unless a family member or colleague sends a “911” text, avoid using the phone. To make this easier, advise everyone that you will be attending a very important dinner and will not answer calls or texts. The goal at the dinner is to provide everyone in attendance with your full, undivided attention. Answering a cellphone is rude.
- It is just as important that you relax and be yourself. Especially when entertaining people of extreme value to your business, they will see right through a facade. Now, if you tend to be someone who is always joking, you may need to rein things in a little bit, but other than that, stay true to who you are and what you believe.
- Avoid crude comments and jokes. You may know all of the people in attendance, but there is a good chance you have no clue if they would truly be offended by an off-color comment. Therefore, use the business dinner as an opportunity for closing deals, sharing branding information, or promoting a company, not for locker room talk that can make a deal go south fast.