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Wining and Dining to Grow Your Business and Brand

In his book, Power Entertaining, author Eddie Osterland details how to turn entertaining into an opportunity to build and brand your business.

Eddie Osterland

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In this edited excerpt, Osterland offers advice on hosting a memorable and successful event.

Power entertaining is about creating an experience for guests, built around great wine, great food, great company and great ambience. It’s about giving people enjoyable memories that will cause them to remember you fondly and make them want to do business with you in the future. The following principles will help you take your business entertaining to a new level.

Think of power entertaining as a business-development strategy. You can brand yourself and your company by creating memorable and enjoyable social events that people will long remember and always associate with you.

Hosting power entertaining events is a great way to become “a centre of influence,” because every event you put on for others is an opportunity to create an indelible impression in the minds of others. Creating a memorable experience doesn’t need to bust your budget.

Power entertaining is about offering people delectable samples of food and tastings of wine, especially of things they haven’t had before or don’t know much about.

Be an enthusiastic master of ceremonies. Power entertaining is about making others feel special at business events you host. It’s important to dive into your hosting role with gusto, extending the welcome mat to people as they arrive, exuding warmth and hospitality, setting the tone for why people are together and describing what the evening is all about.

Engage a sommelier or wine merchant to help plan and host events. They will be very knowledgeable about wine and will be able to help you design unique wine and food pairings to feature at your dinner or reception.

Introduce guests to new wine and food. At many corporate events the only alcoholic beverages people serve are cheap, garden-variety brands of Chardonnay, Cabernet, or Merlot. So instead, offer Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre), Tempranillo (Rioja), Sangiovese (Chianti), and other wines that go well with specific foods.

Kick the evening off with Champagne. Before serving food, start by giving guests Champagne or sparkling wine as they arrive. People feel instantly special when you do this. It delights and dazzles them – and what a first impression it makes.

Serve your best stuff first. Most people will arrive for your event coming from work, and they’re likely to be famished. So instead of offering mixed nuts, pretzels, raw vegetables and potato chips, serve small sampler portions of foods like Scottish smoked salmon, foie gras, or, perhaps my favourite appetizer, jamón ibérico de bellota, a kind of Spanish ham that looks like prosciutto but is far more exotic.

Serve wines in pairs. Design entertaining events around side-by-side comparisons of different wines. This adds an intellectual dimension to your event or dinner party and can be a lot of fun, both for you and your guests. It also helps people mingle and injects a new social dimension into an evening, as people ponder what they’ve tasted and chat about it with their fellow guests.

Invest in the right ‘power tools.’ It’s important that you invest in some special bartending accessories to add panache, style and flourish to your events. It helps set you apart from everybody else who does business entertaining.

Among the necessities are nice wine decanters, a nice wine opener and classy glassware. Very few people or organisations have elegant wine glasses, so buy at least a dozen nice red wine glasses and a dozen nice white wine glasses, as well as a set of 12 Champagne flutes.

Stay attentive to your guests’ needs. Too often I’ve been to business events where the designated “host” didn’t do a very good job of mingling with others, introducing guests to one another and making everyone feel special.

Many people dread going to business events that involve a social component, and many get nervous when entering a room full of people they don’t know. Make efforts when hosting events to help people mingle, and if necessary, enlist others to help.

Give souvenirs. Give your guests a nice take-home souvenir of their evening with you. For example, I often put the pairings of food and wine together on glossy 4 x 6-inch cards so that people can replicate them. It might sound corny, but people love this stuff. And it will cause them to remember you well after the event has passed.

Learn how to work with restaurants. From time to time, you’ll want to work closely with restaurants to plan and host events. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Know the wine list and menu.
  • Work with the restaurant’s sommelier to design the wine and food menu.
  • Tip generously, in cash, before the event. Plan to tip at least 20% of the final estimated cost, and consider 25% to secure the best service possible.

Power entertaining can be an extension of your marketing and business development efforts and give clients and prospects a very positive “brand experience” of you, your firm, and your commitment to building and sustaining a strong business relationship with them.

Eddie Osterland is an international expert in food and wine and holds a degree of Diplôme Universitaire d'Aptitude à la Dégustation from the Université de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France, as well as a master sommelier diploma. He hosts workshops on power entertaining to global companies including Citigroup, IBM and American Express. He is author of Power Entertaining: Secrets to Building Lasting Relationships, Hosting Unforgettable Events, and Closing Big Deals from America's 1st Master Sommelier (Wiley, 2012).

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Networking

Why I Never Meet Someone For Coffee

The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.

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First off, I need to make clear that I am not against meeting people for coffee or even drinking coffee. My issue is that I’ve learned that the offer to go get coffee usually means that somebody wants something from me. Whether it is time, money or to help them make a connection, an offer to grab a drink almost always has some ulterior motive behind it.

You might think that I flat out don’t want to help others, but the real issue is the other opportunities that I have in front of me. I have a lot on my plate, so dedicating the time to a “quick” coffee meeting does not make much sense.

Related: Starbucks Coffee Is All About Culture… For A Reason

Say no to getting coffee

Hours spent in the office doing business are not the time to sit back, relax or socialise. I try to be as efficient, effective and statistically successful as possible during work hours (and beyond). The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.

I rarely take anyone up on the offer to “do lunch” during work hours. Just consider the amount of time that it takes to get to and from a coffee or lunch meeting, and how much business could be done in that same time.

Then, think about the inefficiencies of utilising that time for things such as small talk, even before you get to the critical business issue.

Have an objective in mind

I have the objective to try and keep every phone call to a maximum of five minutes. When it comes to in-person meetings, I prefer them to take place at my office or overlapping other meetings I have outside the office, which I call “holding court.”

Even then, I try to keep those meetings to 20 minutes long. This allows me to fit in as many meetings or calls as possible. So many people make the excuse that they are “doing business” and then leave the office to do unimportant things, or overlap their meetings around errands.

Make no mistake, I’m not advising against meeting people in person. I’m saying take control of the business opportunity and have them come to you, or meet them somewhere convenient when you are outside of the office.

Related: 5 Ways That Coffee Affects Productivity

No coffee, just grind

The majority of lunch and coffee meetings that take place are nothing but an inefficient use of time. I would suggest not only rejecting such meetings during work hours, but to also stop asking for coffee meetings unless they’re absolutely necessary.

How do you determine whether or not a meeting is necessary? Take a look at the reasons and impacts the meeting can have. If these outweigh the potential drawbacks of an in-person meeting, then it is acceptable to ask. Make sure that you focus on making efficiency a key principle when chasing your objectives.

Stay focused in on critical business issues and you will find that focus will provide you with everything you desire in business and life.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Great Places To Take Your Clients When Networking

Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.

Jeff Broth

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Do you live in South Africa and work at a job that entails taking clients out while networking? Are you tired of doing the same activities over and over? Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.

Introduce Them to Casino Action and Fun

There’s no better way to make a splash with your clients than by taking them to one of the many casinos found in South Africa. Between the cities of Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Queenstown, Pretoria, and Sun City there are more than 15 casinos to check out. Casinos offer a light and fun atmosphere that is perfect for letting loose. At the same time, they aren’t too loud, which means you can go ahead and sneak in a little shop talk.

Related: The Top 10 Behaviours To Avoid When Networking

Besides the casinos, you can also take your clients to horse races and even bingo. If the casino action is a big hit with them, be sure to let them know there are a large amount of South African online casinos that offer all the same types of games, plus a whole lot more.

Enjoy a Sports Game

sports-ground

Professional sports events are another fabulous spot to take your clients. You get that laid back casual atmosphere that allows you to stray from the traditional business attire, it’s a chance to get out of the office, and you can introduce your client to your own home team.

South Africa is well-known around the world for its love of sports. Among the most popular are rugby, cricket, and soccer. If you want to take them to the most popular sport in the country, however, soccer is the clear winner. Loftus Versveld and Ellis Park are two stadiums that are known to draw in some very rowdy crowds. Just be sure to get your tickets well in advance so you don’t end up disappointing your client.

Share the Local Cuisine

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your client out for a meal, this particular option tends to be over-done. In order to make yours a memorable experience, skip the chain restaurants and typical locations and instead introduce your client to local and authentic cuisine. These are the places the tourists don’t tend to visit, but the locals know all about.

Plan an Adventure Tour

paragliding

Before you go ahead and choose this option, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about your client in advance. Not everyone is up to adventure activities, so you want to be sure you don’t put them in an uncomfortable position.

Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking

If you’ve got the green light, however, there are all kinds of activities you can take part in. Adventures can include a private helicopter tour, paragliding, zip-lining, a shark watching tour, a private surfing lesson, whale watching, kayaking, a sightseeing tour (by bus, car, or foot), bicycling, hiking, snorkelling, horseback riding on the beach, or even High Tea in Cape Town.

All of these ideas are unique and memorable so you know the visit will leave a lasting impression in your client’s mind.

Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box

When it comes to entertaining your clients while you spend time networking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. Coming up with unique ideas is sure to leave that lasting impression in their mind, which is exactly what you are striving for.

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Networking

The Top 10 Behaviours To Avoid When Networking

There are some things that you should and should not do while networking – it’s important to know the difference.

Ivan Misner

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In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Ivan Misner goes over the 10 behaviours that you should not exhibit in a networking group.

Sharing your problems and grievances with fellow networkers and guests is not a good idea while meeting and socialising with others in the group. Winging presentations, being late and using your phone are other things to avoid, too.

Networking is key to the success of a company. In fact, a single referral source can bring a chain reaction of new business to your company. That’s why it’s vital to make your time and efforts worthwhile in networking groups.

Related: Proactive Networking – Your Network Is Your Net Worth

Success in these groups will happen when the rest of the group members trust enough to open up their best referrals. That’s why it’s vital to avoid these behaviours and demonstrate professionalism.

To learn more, click play.

Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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