From invitation to location, etiquette tips for conducting business over a meal

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Having a meal with a business associate is a great way to get to know him or her better. It allows you to learn more about a potential employee, new client or colleague in a more relaxed social environment. Quite often, companies extend lunch invitations to potential employees – particularly for upper management positions – in order to vet temperament, social skills and other indicators that may suggest how well someone might handle clients and interact with other team members.
Sometimes it's not clear whether you should conduct business over a meal. There are a few considerations to think through. Answering these questions will help you make the best decision. First, ask yourself:
  • What is the nature of our relationship and is it appropriate to extend an invitation?
  • What is the purpose of the meeting? Is it better-suited for the office?
  • What do I hope to accomplish?
  • Is there anyone else who should be included?
  • What is my budget?
  • Should we meet for breakfast, lunch or dinner?
  • Are there any time or other constraints?
Here is a quick cheat sheet to help you decide which meal is best suited to your meeting purpose.
Breakfast
Purpose: Quick straight-to-the-point meeting, less formal
Benefits: Less costly than lunch or dinner; does not interrupt the business day
Details: location most convenient for your guest(s). Select a private club, hotel dining room, coffee shop (though avoid peak hours). Meeting may also be held in your office if hosting a group.
Lunch
Purpose: various -- introductions, foster good relations, develop ideas
Benefits: Relatively short and focused, typically less expensive than dinner, doesn't cut into personal time
Details: 1-2 hours. Select a place that is reasonably quiet, conveniently located for both host and guest, moderately priced, trusted cuisine.
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Full Article at AL.com
By Michelle Powell CEO of Professional Manner April 14, 2014

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