Your Guide to the Perfect Business Lunch

by Brett & Kate McKay on April 17, 2012 · 41 comments

in Money & Career

The term “power lunch” went out after the 80s along with awesome phrases like “gag me with a spoon,” but meeting for a meal with a potential client, investor, or business partner remains an excellent way to network and connect with folks who could help further your career. Breaking bread with another person creates a more intimate and casual connection and can foster positive bonds and good feelings.

But only if you handle it like a pro. Because sharing a meal also tends to reveal more about you and your habits, which makes you more vulnerable to doing something that will turn off the person you’re trying to woo. So it pays to prepare.

A lot of the same guidelines you should use when pitching an idea at someone’s office, apply to the business lunch as well, but the restaurant set-up does create some special considerations. How to navigate those considerations is what we’ll be talking about today.

Make the invitation. Before inviting someone to a business lunch, you want to make sure scheduling one is even necessary. While you may think that everyone enjoys a free meal, many folks, especially those in prominent positions, receive such invitations with great frequency, and they may 1) resent the intrusion on their time, and 2) be wary of someone trying to “buy” their favor. So always let them know that you’re willing to come see them at their office instead.

A good invitation can be worded in a number of ways but should include the following three criteria:

  • Clearly states the purpose of the meeting. Never make it seem as if you want to take the person to lunch to thank him for something or simply as a social get-together, only to surprise him with a business pitch once the Southwestern egg rolls have arrived.
  • Establishes your role as host. Your invitation is also your first opportunity to establish your role as host (whoever does the inviting is the host), and doing so can make awkward wrangling over the check down the road less likely. So always word your invitation in a way that makes it clear that lunch is on you. You can say, “I’ll take you to lunch,” or “Please let Conoco buy us lunch,” or “Be my guest for lunch.” But avoid phrases that sound like the lunch could be a Dutch treat such as, “Let’s have lunch.”
  • Makes it easy for the person to graciously decline. Don’t make him sweat how to let you down easy and force him into lying about how all his lunch openings are booked for the next 6 months.

A good invitation goes something like this: “I would love to get together with you to talk about x, y, and z. May I come by to see you sometime? Or, better still, could you spare the time in what I know is a very busy schedule to let me take you to lunch?”

Choose an appropriate restaurant. If you don’t know the tastes of the person you’re meeting with, don’t choose an exotic or ethnic restaurant. You don’t want to bring Bob to a sushi bar only to find out he’s a meat-and-potatoes guy who hates anything raw and wrapped in seaweed. Steakhouse or bistro-type restaurants are a good bet. But make sure the menu includes one or two quality vegetarian options.

It’s wise to pick a restaurant you’ve been to at least a couple of times before, so you know that both the service and the food are top notch. But if you’re traveling and away from home, do a good amount of research online before picking the restaurant. Check out the restaurant’s website and look at reviews on other sites.

While you should never defer to the guest about where to eat, if you feel like the guest might want something more interesting than the standard fare, choose one “safe” restaurant and one more exotic place, and let him pick.

An ideal business lunch restaurant has a clean but cozy atmosphere and is moderately-priced—somewhere nice, but a place where your guest will feel comfortable even if he arrives dressed casually–and it should be fairly quiet. It should also be a restaurant that takes reservations, because you should always–

Make a reservation. Never get stuck having to tell your arriving guest that lunch won’t begin for 20 minutes because there aren’t any available tables. When you make your reservation, give your name, and the name of your guest as well, to prevent possible mix-ups.

Do some pre-meeting reconnaissance. Even if you’ve been to the restaurant before, it doesn’t hurt to scout it out before your meeting. Ask yourself things like: Does this place have the right atmosphere and vibe for what we’re going to be talking about? How’s the music? Is it so loud that conversation is going to be difficult? Where’s the best place to sit? Do they accept my credit card?

Arrive early. Be at the restaurant 10 minutes before the time your guest is scheduled to arrive. Wait at the table or bar for your guest, and tell the hostess to be on the lookout for him.

The advantage of sitting down at your table to wait is that you can talk to your waiter before your guest arrives. Let him or her know that you’ll be doing business during lunch and graciously ask that interruptions be kept to a minimum. If your guest is on a tight schedule, tell the waiter you’ll need the bill as soon as possible after the meal. You can also let the waiter know that you’ll be paying the bill and to hand the check directly to you when he brings it out.

Tip for the guest: Always make sure you go to the bathroom before you arrive at the restaurant, to avoid coming in, shaking the host’s hand and saying hello…and then immediately excusing yourself to use the restroom.

Turn off your cell phone. Nothing can torpedo a business lunch faster than a host who’s phone rings throughout the whole meal, and worse, who chooses to take those calls. Turn off your cell phone when you arrive at the restaurant, so you can give your guest your undivided attention (this goes for all meals, business or otherwise). If you are expecting a truly urgent/emergency call that you absolutely have to take, then tell your guest as soon as you two sit down at the table. Then put your phone on vibrate, and when it goes off, give it a quick look to see who’s calling, and if it isn’t the emergency call, silence it as quickly as possible.

Of course, if your guest wants to leave his phone on and answer his calls, you have to let him do that without shooting him glances of withering disdain. While your guest is talking on the phone, go to the bathroom to give him some privacy or look at your phone or proposal papers, to give him the feeling of privacy.

Let your guest go first. When your guest arrives, let him follow the maître d’ to the table while you bring up the rear. You want to give your guest first dibs on seat choice—if it’s one of those half table/half booth deals, he may prefer the booth side. If your guest hesitates, gesture for him to sit in the better seat. If your guest has long legs, make sure he’s not having to sit in a spot where he feels cramped.

Go easy on the drinks. Mad Men may have returned for another season, but I’m afraid the three martini lunch is not making a similar comeback. Follow the client’s lead in ordering your beverages. If he orders a non-alcoholic drink, then do likewise. If he orders an alcoholic drink, you can do so too, if you desire, but order something lighter than what he’s getting. So if he orders a whiskey on the rocks, get a light beer. And don’t feel the need to match him drink for drink if he’s knocking them back; you need to be as sharp and on your toes as possible, so stick with one drink and nurse it throughout the lunch.

If you’re a non-drinker, and your guest wants to drink, you have a bit of a quandary. If you order a non-alcoholic drink while they order booze, it can make them feel a little bit like they’re doing something wrong. Personally, as a teetotaler myself, I tell the waiter, “I’ll just have a water for now.” What I order later is a diet soda, but it lets the guest feel more confident in getting whatever they’d like.

Mirror your guest’s courses. Order the same number of courses as your guest. You want to be eating at the same times, so if he’s getting an appetizer or salad, then you should too, so he’s not the only one chowing down. And you want the meal to end at the same time for both of you as well, so if he’s not getting dessert or coffee, you shouldn’t either. Also, if he orders, say a chicken-breast-something-or-other, don’t get a steak and ask for it well done. Your meal will take twice as long coming out, and delay your guest getting his food. Also, why are you ruining a delicious steak by asking for it well done!?

Order food that’s easy to eat. If you’re trying to make a good impression with your guest, don’t order stuff that might make you look awkward while you eat it. Salad can have big chunks of greens that are hard to eat in one mouthful, onion soup can create strings of cheese, and pasta and ribs can get sloppy.

Segue into business at the right time. Don’t launch into your proposal as soon as you sit down. Enjoy a little casual conversation first. This builds rapport, and it also gives you a chance to take in some of your guest’s personality, which may lead you to tailor your pitch to his proclivities. Keep the conversation on sports, hobbies, and non-controversial news; avoid prying into their personal life if you don’t know them well.

Never talk business until at least everyone has ordered. Making the leap after the salad/soup course and before the entrees arrive is a good bet.

Treat the staff well. Is a potential client going to want to work with someone’s who’s a boor to the waiter? Nope.

At the same time, a guest, knowing you’re picking up the tab, will be less likely to make his needs known. So if the guest has a problem, kindly make sure the staff takes care of it.

Pick up the bill with confidence. Remember, whoever did the inviting is the host and pays for the meal. You should have already laid the groundwork for making your role as host clear, which will help prevent the awkward, “I’ll get it. No, I’ll get,” exchange at the end of the meal. Casually grab the bill when it comes, continuing to talk or listen to your guest as you put your credit card in the folder—don’t draw a lot of attention to and make a big deal out of what you’re doing.

No need for elaborate tricks for paying the bill “discreetly,” like giving your credit card to the waiter in advance or pretending like you’re going to the bathroom, while really finding the waiter in order to pay him away from the table. According to our old etiquette books, that’s what women used to do when they first entered the workforce in order to avoid the appearance of (gasp!) paying for a meal. Pay like a man—there’s no need for stealth and high strategy.

Post-Meal-em. After your business lunch, write a thank you card to the guest to tell him how much you appreciated his taking the time to meet with you. But don’t consider him to now be in your debt—there’s no reciprocity assumed with business lunches.  But hopefully, basking in the glow of your well-executed meal, your guest will be rather inclined to consider your ideas and a potential relationship.

What are your tips for pulling off a successful business lunch? Share them with us in the comments. 

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gary House April 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Solid advice expecially the wisdom about “Mirror your guest courses” and “Treat the staff well”. I have seen both of these violations end up with very unwelcoming results.

2 LG April 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Actually, speaking of Mad Men, Roger had some good advice (for once) about keeping up with your guest’s alcohol consumption without getting fractured — “You get a scotch, rocks and water, you drink half of it until it’s see-through, you get another.” Applies to any brown liquor. Not that anyone’s trying to get drunk, but it’s more sociable not to make your guest feel like a lush if he orders another round. And it’s easier to do with whisky/ey than beer.

3 Ryan April 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm

If your the one on the other end (specifically if your boss takes you out to lunch and they’re paying) an etiquette is to ask what that person is thinking about ordering and order something that matches or is less than their meal’s price.

4 Ben April 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I am curious about some items that are more “safe” to eat than others. I enjoy food a lot so when I am faced with a menu I will most likely end up thinking about what tastes good. Though it was with family at the time I ended up with a quail one time that would have been HORRIFYING in a business situation.

What are some solid go-to’s? Especially as I am not exceptionally good with a fork and knife?

Also, what kind’s of policy is there for leftovers? (I’m a small guy and sometimes it’s either leave 3/4ths to half of it or bag it)

As you can tell I don’t hit too many business lunch scenario’s but I’d like to make them a future part of my life/ career goals. I’d appreciate the tips.

5 Kyle April 18, 2012 at 12:03 am

I am an outside sales representative and in my opinion the business lunch is my most important part of my job. I have several customers and the biggest ones are usually the busiest. I have found that most purchasing agents and people in general open up to you and are more comfortable at lunch appointments.

The one mistake I see and hear on a daily basis are people talking to much about work during lunch. People are at work 8 hours a day or more talking about work the entire time. Give them a break and have some fun conversations, read up on some funny jokes and tell them. Everyone remembers the guy that tells them the funny joke and tends to forget the guy with the great business pitch during their hour off of work, it sounds cheesy, but nobody wants lunch even if its free if they have to hear about products the entire time. It is about work and if you must bring up work and can’t just build up some good report, bring up work after everyone is done eating and the conversation is slowing down. They will remember it and not feel like you were too pushy.

Also, a letter is a little bit out dated. I like to send my customers a text or an email after lunch 30 minutes to an hour
after just letting them know I appreciated their time and company.

My success in sales and getting to become closer to my customers are from lunch.

6 James @ Critical Financial April 18, 2012 at 12:10 am

Great article, the business lunch is one of the most critical things for anyone new to the business world to master. It can get your business funding, clients, and build your network. Some of the tips in this article are simply priceless.

7 Gin&Tonics April 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

Excellently written, and very well taken advice. I’m afraid you’ve made only one critical error:

No man should ever, EVER drink light beer AT ANY TIME.

That is all.

8 Travis April 18, 2012 at 2:48 am

No no no no. Do not order a light beer. Do not ever order a light beer. If you’re going to order a beer, order a real beer, or don’t bother.

9 AC April 18, 2012 at 5:36 am

Ben, don’t even think for a moment about asking for a doggy bag. Never! Not even during a non-business setting – It’s really cheap. If you eat very little order one portion and share it with another person. Don’t try this on a business lunch, though.

As for safe foods, as a general rule I would avoid anything that’s likely to drip, anything messy like spaghetti, anything hard to cut (like ribs) or anything you eat with your fingers.

Regarding the drinking, I disagree with Brett on his point about underdrinking your guest. If he orders whiskey, he will feel more comfortable if you order a strong drink as poposed to a beer. And please, no light beer!

10 kip April 18, 2012 at 5:45 am

I always scout out the restaurant beforehand and introduce myself to the manager/staff regarding a business lunch. They are without a doubt the best people to have on your side when going to a lunch because they will go out of their way to make sure you have a great time. It will help you score a great experience because they know what sort of engagement you are looking for and making it known up front that you are going to pre-tip will help out as well.

11 Rod @ IP Software April 18, 2012 at 6:40 am

I find that discussion over a meal – whether it be business or a date distracting. How am I supposed to enjoy eating when I’m distracted by more important business?

12 Stewart L April 18, 2012 at 6:52 am

The host should order a beverage first indicating it’s acceptable to order alcohol. Even if the firm is not paying the tab some have no alcohol policies for lunch. In law it used to be considered de rigor to order a drink, now it may be malpractice.

13 OkieRover April 18, 2012 at 9:00 am

I have to echo Gin & Tonics. Ordering beer is a slippery slope. I drink what I like. Be it rum and coke (I know before hand what rum they have) and beer (I drink what I like). If you know a lot about beer, what you order really says a lot about you. I like a few beers because they like me. I would not drink a light beer at a business meeting. It seems wishy-washy. Order the beer you like, have ONE if you are being careful.
I went to a business mixer yesterday. Margaritas and Coronas were being served with tea and water. The hosts all drank bottle water. I had tea. There is no reason to drink crappy tequila and bad beer.

14 Jordan D April 18, 2012 at 9:14 am

I have to disagree with one of your points, Brett, regarding “letting your guest go first”. It’s a long standing salesman trick/technique to always pick your seat first, and to pick the seat with the best view. That is, if there is a window to look out of, a TV to watch, or an attractive woman at the next table, take the seat that faces that view of interest. If you don’t, you’re setting your guest up for distraction and making it harder for you to obtain and hold his attention throughout the meal.

15 James April 18, 2012 at 9:30 am

I believe in giving guests an option. Not the wishy-washy, “What kind of food do you want” kind of option, but naming two different places for them to choose from. That way, you come across as someone in charge, i.e can plan an event, yet also someone who is open to ensuring the satisfaction of the clients, or whomever you are inviting to a formal meal.

I too will disagree with the beer. There is something that, and this is only my opinion, is unprofessional about having a Bud Light during a business lunch.

16 A6 April 18, 2012 at 11:34 am

Interesting article. All this talk about food actually makes me want to go out and order a steak: medium well of course.
The one question I have is whether or not one could (or should) take a potential client or business partner to a cigar lounge. I live in NYC and they have a place that could best be described as an oasis.
P.S
I’m not much of a beer drinker but I never understood the fascination with “light beers.” I once ordered a Bud-Light a long time ago and almost threw up in my mouth.

17 James April 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

@A6, that is something you need to be absolutely sure about beforehand. There are many people who have an extreme dislike for any type of smokey area, so it may not go over well.

However, if you knew they had a penchant for a good cigar, then I believe it would be a great place.

18 Steve April 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Funny that in such a comprehensive article, all people can talk about is light beer. Reminds me of all those commercials aimed at men that say it’s “manly” to order a big fatty fast food burger, and only wimps order salads. Have we really not moved beyond that?

Here’s my take: there’s nothing wrong with drinking light beer at all, and I personally do it all the time. And I am one of the top salesmen at my company. It has less alcohol, and like Brett said, I want to be as sharp as possible while still making the other person feel comfortable ordering alcohol. IMHO, if someone is going to be put off by you drinking a light beer, they’re probably not somebody you want to work with.

19 Lindsay April 18, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I don’t know any adults who would look down on a man for ordering a light beer, or think it is somehow less manly. At the dinner table, the difference between “I’ll have a Bud” and “I’ll have a Bud Light” are nil. If you think adding the word “light” at the end makes someone less of a man, you’ve either watched too many commercials, or you’re twelve. Also, even if you *did* do something *womanly* what is wrong with that? I guess women are just screwed if it’s a serious setback to be perceived as a woman.

20 Lindsay April 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Also, you can’t really worry about whether the person is going to judge you for your beer choice. Unless you already know this about their personality. They may be just as likely to judge your food choice. What if they order vegetarian, should you avoid ordering meat? There’s a point where you can go a bit overboard trying to impress and you should just be yourself. People can perceive it when you are trying too hard or when you’re pretending to be something you’re not.

21 A6 April 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

@Jame-Duly noted.

@Lindsay- Let me be clear on this: I wouldn’t necessarily say that I “look down” on a man w/ regards to what kind of beer that they order. That would be beyond LUDICROUS! A gentleman on one the AOM posts once said: There’s no such thing as an unmanly activity, the fact that a man does it makes it MANLY by default.”
In my opinion, and as a matter of personal taste, you could not pay me to drink a light version of any beer. Having said that, I enjoy a scrumptious steak, a nice glass of wine and occasional cigar from time to time. I presume some individuals don’t like steaks or wine etc. Ultimately, it’s all a matter of personal taste- To each their own!!

22 BurkeFiles April 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Absolutely excellent, I just read a post on another blog on what not to do and why a business meal is so important. It is part of the social due diligence, if you will, on peers, contacts and opponents. Again excellent – http://www.aegisjournal.com/due-diligence/the-business-meal/2012/04/

23 James April 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

@Steve and Lindsay, I cannot speak for others, however I did not intend to imply that light beer was “unmanly”. It’s my opinion that ordering bud light over a business meeting seems a bit unprofessional.

While I agree that a man drinks whatever he wants, I also know what someone such as my boss looks for.

24 Mr. X April 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Well-written article.

25 P.M.Lawrence April 19, 2012 at 1:52 am

Also, if he orders, say a chicken-breast-something-or-other, don’t get a steak and ask for it well done. Your meal will take twice as long coming out, and delay your guest getting his food. Also, why are you ruining a delicious steak by asking for it well done!?

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

I’ve commented on this before. Well done is not only a perfectly good way to cook a steak, it is often the best way. This myth has arisen for two reasons:-

- Americans don’t know how to cook a steak properly.

- In the U.S.A., the cuts are wrong for proper cooking, from being too thick and from coming from cattle that are too lean.

These errors reinforce each other. Luckily, even bad raw materials can be improved to the point where they can be cooked properly, though having them right in the first place is better. Just do this:-

- Chill the meat so it can be cut more easily, then cut it again on a chopping board to get two thinner cuts, cutting horizontally with a sharp knife. (Need I add, cut away from you?)

- Cut some pockets in the steak, horizontally, and fill them with a little butter to make up for the missing fat. Personally I like unsalted butter, but you could even use herb or garlic butter if you prefer. There is even a tradition of putting in oysters, to get their juices and flavour combination. (Google for “pocket steak”.)

- Now cook the thinner cuts for a shorter time than you (wrongly) think well done takes, turning once, and the fat will move through the meat carrying its flavour while it gets well done.

This means two things. A properly well done steak does not take too long after all. And it does not ruin the steak. If your restaurant can’t do it, it shares in the American failure to know how to cook a steak properly, and you shouldn’t be going there. Do you really want to go to a restaurant that can ruin a steak?

26 A6 April 19, 2012 at 7:52 am

@P.M. Lawrence – Interesting take on what I consider to be one of life’s finest pleasures. To give you an idea of how much I enjoy a nice steak, my girlfriend always jokes that if anything ever happened to her that I would worry incessantly for the first hour and then wonder where the nicest, juiciest piece of steak was!
I was never aware about that method of cooking steaks before (though it appears that it takes a whole lot more preparation and adjustments.) Just out of curiosity: wouldn’t all the cutting of holes inside the meat render it rather dry in the first place? I’m also wondering how well the butter would mix with the natural juices flowing. I was always under the impression that prior to serving, cutting and poking should be kept to a minimum, if at all. Very good insight though.

27 JT April 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

The parts about how to act during lunch also serve as good guide points as to how to act on a job interview lunch.

28 Otown Right Guy April 19, 2012 at 10:07 am

So typical on this site for the over-compensating commenters to think they are “manly” because they eschew light beer. Living in Florida, it can be hard to find restaurants and bars that serve anything other than you typical Miller or AB products on tap. So in that situation, I’ll order a Bud Light instead of a Bud. The concept being watered down piss water is better than full strength piss water. But if you feel like a man just because you eat steak rare or don’t drink light beer, then you aren’t a man at all.

29 T.M. August April 19, 2012 at 10:41 am

@ P.L. Laurence
Too lean? Really?
Good lord, man, I can’t even eat most beefsteak because of the fat. (Does chronic illness make me less manly? Many seem to judge my dietary restrictions so.)
Maybe I just need to go to a better steakhouse.

I like Brett’s tip for teetotalers, though. I’ll keep that one in mind.

30 Josh April 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

I’ve found that a salad and steak the most “business friendly” meal options.

Everything else just makes you look like a fool when eating: Burgers, wraps, nachos (yes), etc…

31 Fino For Men April 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Ive found that simple things like cheese and Hummus make a “business friendly” meal. When you go all out, depending on the situation, sometimes it can come off too pushy if it’s a hard sell. Don’t bring unhealthy things.

32 P.M.Lawrence April 19, 2012 at 11:54 pm

A6, all that preparation and adjustment is just a way to make the best of a bad job, i.e. the bad materials routinely available in the U.S.A. If you were able to get a proper cut (thinner) with decent marbling (and so more fat), you could simply cook it (you might be able to get some from hobby breeders of heirloom varieties like Dexter miniature cattle; they often have owners’ groups that work a lot like producer co-operatives). That remedial work shouldn’t dry out the cut since you do it with chilled meat and it provides more juices.

TMA, most American steak is too lean and too thick cut to be cooked well done. If you found a steak too fatty for comfort, well, was it well done? If not, sure, the fat wouldn’t have moved through properly, and it wouldn’t taste good. So what you are suffering is most likely the result of poor cooking, e.g. medium or rare, that leaves any fat there not worked through enough for your digestion – for you, a properly well done steak is the only decent way to cook it. But if you had had that well done and it had been a typical U.S. cut, the odds are that it wouldn’t have given you so much indigestion but it wouldn’t have tasted very good either, from the outside ending up nearly carbonised and the inside still not done enough, all without the effect of enough fat on the flavour to do justice to “well done”. The U.S. error is thinking that that shows that “well done” ruins steaks when they were actually already ruined for anything but undercooking, from getting the material wrong for that much cooking.

Oh, here’s a link to pocketing steak, referring to the more elaborate fillers rather than butter.

33 Annalisa April 20, 2012 at 1:06 am

Great advice! Several days ago I did everything in this post with a photography intern who’s position is opening (including the thank you note!). Many people applied for the job, but I was the only she met with. She recommended my work highly to her boss, mentioned my professionalism, and agreed to call me if she ever needed me over the summer months before I go to college. In the last 48 hours I’ve received two emails from her offering to let me cover events that she will be unable to! One includes an important Big Ten University gathering. Praise God for great posts like this one! Great job, AoM.

34 Erika Awakening April 20, 2012 at 2:47 am

Damn, that’s a great article! I love how precisely you are helping the guest to have a really wonderful meal experience.

I have done a lot of coaching of men to improve their skills with women, and I swear, change a few details of this article, and you have written a stellar dating advice article. :)

As a woman, I would most surely go on another date with this guy – because he demonstrated social intelligence :)

cheers,
Erika Awakening

35 mike April 20, 2012 at 3:09 am

As someone that has had his fair share of “power lunches” this is a great article and highlights a lot of interesting topics. The thank you note is a great touch and goes a long way. You don’t realize how taking 2 minutes to write that note and mail it out can pay dividends in the future.

36 curtis April 20, 2012 at 6:07 am

on the subject of professionalism i think it would be a lot much more professional to take a business assioate to lunch then to a summit rather then that becuase going to lunch seems to show more openess and corperate hospitality.

37 Phil Black April 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Decent advice. However I’s rather use Hotel Staff’s recomendations over the ‘anything goes’ Internet review sites.

38 mbodayle April 22, 2012 at 10:43 am

I don’t think it’s a problem to ask a guest to recommend a place if you are unfamiliar with his city. I think it also conveys your trust in him.

Also remember – no broccoli as it makes your teeth look nasty.

39 dmalstott May 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

This piece conveys a mixture of good and bad advice. Some of the basic principles are sound, but the overall tone seems to be one of deference and neediness. Be your own man in any situation. If you want a real drink, then order one regardless of what the others are doing. You don’t need to follow every cue regarding “appropriate behavior.” Be confident and dictate the cues. If you are the host, you are the de facto leader. I’m not saying one should act like a jackass and do whatever you want, but too much of what’s conveyed in this article is beta-male behavior. Like the thank-you letter/email at the end. Why? My time is valuable. Why am I grateful to you for eating on my tab? Ultimately, much like women, clients like and want winners with a pair of cojones, not deferential sycophants. Again, not narcissistic jackasses with no boundaries or sense of self-awareness, but not some low-self-esteem candyass who feels lucky to pay for someone’s lunch. Respect yourself and your abilities, and they will come back for business.

40 Samir March 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm

What if you are the guest?

41 Lance April 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I’m glad you said write a thank you card. I think as you get more acquainted with a client though, an email might do. Oh and for sure order something easy to eat is great advice.

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