Showing up late for a business lunch reflects poorly on you and can cast a shadow on the future relationship. Being late suggests someone or something else is more important. It’s rude, disrespectful to your host and all those present.
If you are going to be unavoidably late, call your host as soon as you know.
Remember, it’s not about the food… you are never invited because your host thinks you look hungry and need to be fed!
This finite time together away from the office is intended to advance interpersonal relationships. The little things orchestrated pre, during and post business meals are not small at all. These nuances are specific and once deployed, powerful. Preparation is key.
Email or call the day before a business lunch to reconfirm the date!
Exchange cell phone numbers in advance – in event of the unexpected, and leave your phone on until everyone has arrived.
If you are the host, arriving “on time” is actually late. You should be there at least 15 minutes early. You want to be there when your guests arrive and you have much advance work to do!
• Meet wait staff, learn names, use them.
• Review order of seating. The guest of honor is seated to host’s right, or offered the most comfortable seat or best view.
• Review order of ordering. The guest of honor orders first, ladies next, then gentlemen. The host orders last.
• Make arrangements in advance to pay the check – the check should never arrive at the table.
• Familiarize yourself with restaurant features including location of the restroom …you never want to be in a position of anyone asking anything to which you must reply “I don’t know.”
• Select your table.
Do not be seated until your guests arrive. Do not discuss business during lunch unless mutually agreed or guest initiates; wait until after lunch, over coffee and dessert.
Stand – at entrance to greet guests and warmly welcome as if they were guests in your own home. Let maitre d lead them to the table. Permit guests by order of rank/status to directly follow the maitre d; host is last in the procession to the table regardless of gender. (Note: in Europe, gentleman hosts will always lead, to secure restaurant for safety.
Always take advantage of the already limited time away from the office to get to know guests on a personal level and to advance relationships.