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Maybe you already know how to behave at a business lunch. However, no two business lunches are the same. Generally speaking, the rules of etiquette are less important than being the kind of guest you yourself would love to host at your business lunch. In order to make everyone involved feel comfortable, you need to keep important details in mind.
First things first: The proper food for your business lunch
You know from experience that during stressful days at work, we all crave fast food. Oftentimes, this means hot dogs, fried chicken, pizza or pasta as main dishes. This may sound like a good idea at first, but it may have negative consequences which outweigh the positive aspects. The reason being that fatty fingers or eating food with too much relish should be avoided – no matter how deft you are at eating that hot dog without spilling the mustard or ketchup. You want to be able to take notes, use your hands for gesturing or shake hands when other people join the business lunch. So instead of the aforementioned dishes, we suggest ordering filets or other dishes which can be enjoyed using a fork and a knife.
Business lunch and networking: How to make the best first impression
Remember that going to lunch together always is a social event, too. Each business lunch is your opportunity to extend your professional network. It is also up to you to encourage networking even though you know all the participants. Introduce your colleagues to each other and not only by name, but also with their professional knowledge in mind. Two persons share a common professional background? Great – let this be known in the introduction. This way you help breaking the ice and you will be positively remembered for it.
Different countries, different codes of etiquette: Intercultural competency
Codes of etiquette are different in each culture. While you are allowed to “chug” your shots during business lunches in China, it is accepted in France to arrive a bit later to the gathering. Today, most executives know about cultural differences and how to navigate effectively in intercultural contexts. However, if a mistake still happens, it is important to keep the damage minimal. Try to not make that person feel bad about it: smooth over that mistake instead. Just imagine yourself being in that person’s shoes: you also would be happy about not being judged for a slight fault.
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