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The Business Lunch

Don’t Be Stupid When it Comes to Client Lunches!
by Robin Jay, author of
"The Art of the Business Lunch - Building Relationships Between 12 and 2"

In these tough economic times, personalizing your business can be the key to surviving as others around you fail. High-tech is hot, but it will never be able to take the place of strong, personal relationships. Remember - people prefer to do business with people they like.

As our hectic pace pushes us to move faster and faster, individuals can feel more and more like a hamster in a wheel….running for their lives…..and not very hu man. When was the last time you were made to feel special or appreciated? The same thing goes for your clients and business associates.

When you make the time to take your clients out to lunch, and treat them right – as though they are the most important, special person in the world – you will see two things start to happen: you will begin to net quantifiable results in your business and you will find increased joy in your personal life. You won’t come home feeling as wiped out as before. Nothing fills you up more than giving and sharing with others.

Lunch is the most perfect opportunity each day to take your clients out and make them feel important. Knowing this, many professionals are still reluctant to take clients, especially new clients, out to lunch. It’s no wonder. Taking a new client out to lunch can be as awkward as a blind date! But it doesn’t have to be, if you follow the guidelines that I’ve laid out. Here are just some of the things you can do that will help take your business relationships to a higher level:

  1. Begin by offering to pick them up – so they don’t have to hassle with traffic or parking. Handle everything so that they have nothing to worry about. Wouldn’t YOU love a stress-free hour or two in the middle of YOUR day? And always make a reservation.

  2. Indulge your clients with topical conversation and listen to what they have to say! ASK QUESTIONS! Find out what’s important to them. Whether they want to talk about sports, home, family, or work, you will learn more about what makes them tick. They are bound to reveal something of their personality, and that will give you an advantage when doing business with them. The more you know about a person, the better you will be able to relate to them.

  3. Be considerate when ordering. If your client is on a health regimen, don’t devour lasagna and cheesecake while they pick at a salad. And if you’re the one on the plan and your client wants the lasagna, order accordingly. You can always get chicken or fish with sauce on the side. Just don’t make a big deal out of it, and your client will never realize that you are watching what you eat.

  4. When ordering, remember to choose something that you can get into your mouth, and not on your tie, shirt or dress! Take small bites so that if you are asked a question, you can answer it quickly without a big show of chewing and swallowing, and never talk with food in your mouth! Avoid anything that is challenging to eat: a whole lobster, crab legs, B-B-Q ribs, or spaghetti. Slurping noodles does not make way for good contract negotiations.

  5. Always pay for lunch with a credit card. Paying with cash can create a “Let’s all chip in” atmosphere. A credit card is authoritative and says “I’ve got it.”

These are just a few things to remember when taking your clients out. The bottom line is to do whatever it takes, within good taste, to make them feel special. If you want to see an increase in your professional success and personal satisfaction, don’t waste another lunch time eating alone!