Whether you are a business or up and coming executive rising through the ranks of your company’s corporate ladder, the ability to host a successful business dinner is a critical skill set to have. A successful business dinner provides you with a way to enhance your standing, build sting relationships and close outstanding deals.
Here are some steps, tips and best practices you should follow in order to increase the chance for hosting a successful business dinner. These tips include choosing the right location, making sure you take care of the dietary needs of your guests and using the dinner to not only discuss business but also build intimate relationships with your guests. These simple to follow suggestions may be all that separates you from an average dinner to a springboard to your future success.
Location, Location, Location
Ideally, you should plan to host your business dinner at a public location, such as a restaurant or banquet hall. This gives you greater flexibility, depending on the size of your dinner party and allows you to worry less about preparing the meal or cleaning up the dishes afterwards.
Choose a location that is the most convenient for all of your guests to arrive to, taking into account travel distances, traffic patterns and the availability of parking. Make sure that the patrons who regularly visit the location you choose are similar to those that will comprise your dinner party. This will reduce any awkwardness if the attire of your guests is more business and that of the regulars is more hip and trendy. Reference potential venue websites to gather information on private dining options including room capacity, menu options, A/V capabilities for presentations, and more.
Plan an Accommodating Menu
Determine if any of your guests have any specific allergies or aversions to certain types of food. It is best to choose a location that has a menu that features a wide variety of foods and styles. This includes accommodating any of your business guests who are vegetarian or vegan (there is a difference). You or your assistant should contact each of your dinner guests directly in order to maximize everyone’s dinner experience.
Use the Dinner to Advance the Relationship; the Business Will Follow
Personalize the dinner experience to the best extent possible. If you can, once determining any special dietary needs of your guests and reviewing the menu, prepay the meal. This eliminates any pressure on any of your guests to feel the need to pay their portion of the bill. Depending on the restaurant or dining location that you choose, you may be able to have menus printed that feature the names of your guest. Arranging these personalized menus in accordance with a seating chart you develop will elevate the view that the group has of you.
When your guests arrive, use dinnertime to focus on building a personal rapport. Although your goal is to advance your business or career, ultimately small talk with a purpose will provide you with valuable insight and give you ammunition that you will be able to use later. The more interested (as oppose to interesting) you are, the more likely you will be successful with your business dinner.