An off-site business lunch or dinner goes a long way to ensure your guests focus on your business goals, without the distractions of the office. Early coordination with your caterer, banquet hall, or restaurant goes a long way towards a successful event. Here are some helpful tips to getting what YOU want out of the lunch or dinner meeting:
• Confirm the date, time, and exact address of your lunch or dinner meeting. Communicate this often and sent a calendar invitation. Nothing will work if people don’t know where to go. Even better – pick up your guests to make it easy for them. This is the most important thing you can do.
• Call the restaurant ahead of time. Pick up the phone! Have a real human conversation. This is faster than email and provides you an opportunity to have a relationship with the venue. You might even find out more options than are listed on the restaurant’s web page.
• Ensure you enquire about any special dietary needs from your guests during the invite process so that you are sure to have accommodated for them during the restaurant selection process and pre-ordering processes.
• Arrive early. Pick out your exact table and decide where you want everyone to sit. This helps ensure that the conversations are more likely to happen with the correct people next to each other or facing across the table from one another.
• Consider pre-ordering appetizers and drinks. Have them waiting at the table when your guests arrive. This accomplishes 2 things: 1. Hungry people can begin eating immediately. 2. You can start talking business even sooner. Consider getting platters of food that can be shared and your gets can pick out what they would like to eat.
• Do not order messy food. This impedes the meeting and can distract your focus from your guests. Take a little mirror or visit the restroom to ensure nothing is stuck in your teeth or on your clothing after eating! Look good start to finish!
• Drink only one or two drinks. Know your limit. If your guests leave early, have a dessert drink to rewards yourself afterwards as you are paying the bill.
• Instruct the restaurant to bring you the bill discretely. If possible, leave your credit card with the hostess/host and have everything taken care of behind the scenes. This will impress your guests.
• After the lunch/dinner meeting, thank your guests and send them a thank you email the next day to confirm what was discussed and next steps.