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    Tips For a Successful Business Lunch Meeting

    handshake over lunch
    Image ©Open Table, Inc.

    Power lunches are an important part of most executives' weekly schedule. They give you a chance to meet with a prospective client, partner or business ally outside the office, in a relaxed atmosphere that allows you to connect on a more congenial level over a veggie wrap and espresso.

    But if you've never arranged a business lunch before, it can be a little intimidating. You want to impress your guest, you want everything to go smoothly, the food and setting must be just right. It's as stressful as a first date - which is a pretty good analogy. Here are some easy tips which will help you plan a successful business lunch, and hopefully pave the way to a successful transaction.

    1. Be clear in your own mind what you want the lunch meeting to accomplish.

    Clarify your specific purposes and objectives for the meeting. Don't try to cover too much ground - remember, it's only a lunch meeting. Cover the main issues and leave the fine tuning for a more formal follow-up meeting.

    2. Learn something about the person you're meeting with.

    How do they fit into their organization? What business problems do they have that you can help them to solve? Do they golf? Do they love to travel? Look for areas of common interest that can act as springboards to a stronger business relationship.

    3. Check for dietary restrictions before picking the restaurant.

    Find out what your guest's food preferences are and if they have any food allergies or special dietary restrictions for medical or personal reasons. For instance, if your guest has celiac disease, you'll need to find a restaurant with a variety of gluten-free options. If she's a vegetarian or vegan, picking a steak bar for your lunch is definitely not a good idea. Choosing a location with a diverse menu allows for greater choice and flexibility.

    4. Pick the right environment.

    Make sure the environment fits your guest and the objective of the lunch. If you want to have an in-depth business conversation, a noisy sports bar or an outdoor patio beside a busy street are not good choices.

    5. Confirm the booking.

    Confirm the details of the meeting with your guest, including the correct name and address of the restaurant. If reservations have been made under a specific name, be sure to pass on that information as well. Then reconfirm everything on the morning of the lunch meeting.

    6. Get to the point within the time allotted.

    Always determine the time constraints of your guest at the beginning of the lunch and structure the conversation to accomplish the objective within that time frame. Use open probe questions to determine how you can match your services with the client's needs.

    7. Follow up.

    At the conclusion of the lunch, thank the guest for joining you and tell them that you'll be in touch by a specific date / time (e.g. by the end of the week, within the next 3 or 4 days, etc). Follow up promptly on any commitments made during the lunch, and make sure you get back to the client within the time frame you promised.

    Following these tips can put you on the path for a successful power lunch. Good luck and BON APPETIT!

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