For the average worker, lunch is a chance to escape the office and commiserate with fellow employees. That time away is precious, even if it involves nothing more than a stop at the workplace cafeteria or local food court.
For those in positions of power, lunch is often seen as an extension of the workday. The business lunch is a staple of executive life, and a chance for potential employees, promotion candidates and others to put their best foot forward and get the attention of the decision makers in the firm.
The business lunch can be a tricky affair, and it is easy to do the wrong thing and blow your chance at a new job, a promotion or a great opportunity with the boss. If the company you work for, or the employer you are targeting, likes to discuss things over lunch, your future could well depend on your ability to negotiate this culinary minefield.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of a business lunch invitation, it is important to be prepared. The more time you have to work with, the better, but it is even more important to make the most of the time you do have.
Be sure to check out the restaurant ahead of time, download a copy of the menu from their website and learn what you can about their offerings and their dress code. You do not want to be blindsided or surprised when you arrive, so do your homework and know what to expect.
Deciding when to arrive for a business lunch can be tricky, especially if you are meeting the boss, or a prospective employer, at their favorite restaurant. You do not want to be late, but being too early could find you loitering around the entrance and creating an uncomfortable situation.
Plan to arrive about 10-15 minutes before the scheduled lunch appointment. When you get there, ask the host or hostess if your party has arrived. If so, the staff will show you to the table. If not, find an unobtrusive place to wait, and be sure to great other guests as they arrive. Put your best foot forward, make sure you are dressed for success, and great everyone in a friendly and genuine manner.
If you are unfamiliar with the social norms of the company, take your cue from the others in your party. Look to current employees of the firm whose representatives you are meeting, and try to blend in and act as they do. You still want to be yourself and project your own personality, but you do not want to stand out in a negative way.
Conversation can be a real challenge during a business lunch, so think about what you are going to say and go over it in your mind before you open your mouth. Some amount of small talk is fine, but remember the purpose of the business lunch and stay focused on the discussion at hand. If you are attending a business lunch as part of a job interview, look for opportunities to stress your experience and talk about your qualifications. You do not have to go for the hard sell, but subtly talking about job and your interest in it can be very effective.
Last but not least, be careful what you order for your business lunch. No matter how much you crave a big plate of pasta or a whole lobster, stick to foods that are easy to eat and unlikely to leave an unsightly stain. Your table manners need to be impeccable when attending a business lunch, so order accordingly and always be on your best behavior.
Whether you are interviewing for a new job, talking about the next big promotion or working out the details of your latest project, a business lunch can be the perfect venue. How you handle the opportunity and challenges of that business lunch can make all the difference, and you should prepare as if your career depends on it.
Z & Y Bistro is an ideal location for a San Francisco business lunch. With it’s close proximity to downtown just off of Kearney, competitive pricing, fast service and delicious food, give us a try!