Dining for Success, Part 2: 15 Tips for a Successful Business Meal

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Part 2 of 4, by Bill Rohlfing

Your table manners represent you: a polished, poised, and sophisticated executive. Parts 2 through 4 provide 15 tips to avoid the most common dining etiquette mistakes.

1. If you were the one to extend the invitation, you are responsible for every part of the gathering. As the host, you are responsible for ensuring that every part of the business meal goes smoothly. Offer venue suggestions and make sure that you facilitate ease of access for your guest. Give your guest options and allow him or her to make the final decision.

2. Remove pressure from your guest by familiarizing yourself with the menu in advance. By suggesting several menu items, you are subtly revealing the amount of money you are willing to spend on the meal. Demonstrate your knowledge casually by offering tips on the restaurant favorites and house specialties.

3. Drink from your own water glass and avoid your client’s bread plate. A sure way to negate your own professionalism is by drinking from your client’s water glass or eating from her bread plate. Your drink will always be placed on the right side, above your knife and soup spoon, and your bread plate will always be placed on the left side, above your fork(s). A tip: bring the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb, leaving the other three fingers straight. The right hand will make the shape of a “d” – a reminder that the drink is on the right-hand side – and the left hand will make the shape of a “b” for bread. Your salad and entrée plate will be placed in the center of the utensils, below the bread plate and water glass.

Go to part 3.

Bill Rohlfing is chair of the SPN Practice Intrerview Committee. Bill has 20-plus years of experience as a manufacturing accounting manager.