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Business Meal Planning

By Netta Conyers Haynes, BUSINESS JOURNAL – Silicon Valley / San Jose, CA – 07/27/2001 – 12:00am

Etiquette Can Determine Results of A Meeting…

Dining etiquette can make a difference when trying to close a deal or land a job. A prospective employer may decide not to hire you because you show an unpleasant manner—even during a lunch. To avoid business dining dilemmas, just mind your manners.

“The whole point of etiquette is respecting the other person and making them feel comfortable,” says Sue Fox, author of Business Etiquette for Dummies” and “Etiquette For Dummies,” and president of Etiquette Survival, a professional development and publishing company based in Los Gatos, CA.

More and more business meetings are being held during meals—it’s quick, convenient and, in many cases reduces the stress of doing business. However, business dining etiquette is more than knowing which fork to use or not talking with your mouth food in your mouth. Proper etiquette should be used when extending an invitation, selecting the time and location of a mealtime meeting and, of course, table manners.

When planning a business meal, time and location is of the utmost importance, Ms. Fox says, “Breakfast meetings are good for quick business deals or discussions lasting 45 minutes to an hour, where as lunch—the most popular time for business fining—is effective for working two hours or even more,” says Ms. Fox.

Dinner is reserved for socializing, therefore, she says it is best t arrange dinner meetings with someone you have an existing relationship with. “Usually very little business is done during dinners,” says Ms. Fox.

Always select a restaurant you are familiar with. This is not the first time to try new foods or experiment with restaurants. If you are planning to discuss
Confidential information, make sure private rooms or booths are available. And, for a working lunch, it’s best to reserve a larger table to allow space for paperwork and laptops.

The lasting impression is your table manners. Michael Parket, president and CEO of Stellar Enterprise, a management professional services firm in Union City, emphasizes the importance to of being courteous and sensitive to your guest.

“I try to allow them to eat before I begin asking questions that require detailed answers,” he says. “Also, I try to eat as quickly as possible, having a full plate in front of you can create an uncomfortable atmosphere and prevent you from getting to business.”

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