Ever wonder the recipe for success when it comes to planning a business dinner? Well, we’ve done some research on the topic and have ideas for those of you looking to have an effective client dinner. We’ve put together our dos and don’ts to making an impact during a business dinner or lunch.
Do go with a familiar restaurant. We suggest not having to deal with a new environment and a client at the same time. Pick a restaurant you are familiar with and perhaps even request a specific table you know will be conducive for the environment you are looking for. There are so many amazing D.C. restaurant options so just make sure it’s one you’ve been to before.
Don’t be late! Our biggest advice is to never, ever show up late to a client dinner late. That is the biggest turnoff and gets the dinner off on the wrong foot. Plan ahead and make sure you arrive 15-20 minutes before your guest(s) do.
Do be nice to the people at the restaurant. It’s really important that you come across as respectful to not only your client but the waiters, host, hostess, valet and anyone else you will come into contact in front of your clients. Of course you should always be nice to everyone, but how you treat the people that work in the restaurant is a direction reflection of yourself to your client. Remember that!
Don’t overdrink. This is an easy way to walk away with a not so successful dinner. Make sure to pace yourself throughout the meal and never drink more than your client does. Also, even if your client is choosing to overdrink, it does not mean you should join in on overdrinking. However, don’t make your client feel uncomfortable, so if they are drinking make sure you have at least one drink as well.
Do follow-up. Make sure to follow-up with your client the next day after the dinner. It’s all about creating a deeper relationship than what you had before the meal so take advantage of that and reach out the next day. Let them know you had a great time and add any tidbits from conversation the night before.
Don’t discuss only business. Even though this is a client dinner, it’s important that you make it an effort to discuss things outside work. No one likes to discuss only work 24/7. Ask them about their family, where they grew up, etc. See if you can find things you have in common to discuss. People enjoy the small talk and that is how you are going to create a stronger relationship with your client by discussing items other than work.
Do think about the seating. Are you having dinner with more than one client or more than one colleague? Make sure you plan out ahead where everyone is seating. It would be silly to end up with all of your colleagues at one end of the table and all the clients at the other. It’s important that everyone feels included and that everyone is not necessarily sitting next to who they know best.
Don’t pick a noisy restaurant. You want to make sure your client can actually hear what you are saying during the meal and vice versa. The key to that is making sure the restaurant is not overly noisy or that you have a private seating area.