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Taking Clients Out to Lunch? Don’t Do This!

It may be somewhat of a lost art, but a business lunch is one of the best ways to connect with your clients and earn more business. Though technology helps us stay in touch more frequently, it will never replace the face time provided by taking your clients out to lunch.

Jacqueline Whitmore

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Don’t let your flawless business plan be overshadowed by your dining faux pas. You’ll want to avoid these dining disasters at all costs.

Don’t hassle over the check.

If you’ve asked a client out to lunch, always pay. Better yet, discreetly give the maitre d’ your credit card before your guest arrives to avoid a potentially awkward situation when the check comes at the end of the meal. The only exception to this rule is if your guest is a government employee or is otherwise restricted from accepting meals.

Don’t try out the latest, greatest restaurant.

A client lunch isn’t the time to try out a new establishment and risk bad service or bad food. Choose a restaurant familiar to you. The best choice is a place you’ve dined at often. Better yet, pick a place where the servers know you and give you outstanding service. You’ll look like a VIP. Nothing is more impressive than being greeted by name when you enter a restaurant.

Try not to cancel or reschedule.

Before asking a client to lunch, check your calendar twice — and then again. Plans do change, but changing your plans at the last minute because you accidentally overbooked or accepted a better offer will make you look careless and disorganised. A business lunch is about impressing your clients; it’s best not to give them any reason to question your ability to stay on schedule.

Don’t order first.

Allow your client to order first, then follow his or her lead. Be aware of your client’s dietary restrictions. I once went out to dinner with a group of friends and the host took us to a steak restaurant. One of the women in our group was Indian and didn’t eat meat for religious reasons. The host was embarrassed when he found out that she had ordered a vegetarian meal. Mirror your client’s preferences and lunch will go more smoothly. If your client orders just a salad and a glass of iced tea, follow suit. Don’t go overboard and order a five-course meal.

Avoid poor table manners.

You’re not a barbarian; you’re an entrepreneur. Basic manners are a must. Don’t chew with your mouth open. Use your napkin and never overindulge in alcohol. As the saying goes, “Loose lips sink ships.” You know the basics; now put them to good use. A business meal should be more about the business and less about the meal.

Be a good listener.

Get to know your client through dynamic conversation. Ask open-ended questions. Be interested and interesting and the conversation will flow organically. Don’t be afraid to share a few personal stories, it will remind your client you’re human and allow you to establish a personal connection. Just keep it appropriate and don’t share your deepest, darkest secrets.

Don’t check your phone.

Your email can wait. Turn your phone on silent and leave it in your pocket or handbag. You may have trained yourself to respond to every beep and buzz, but give your client your undivided attention. You attentiveness will show your dedication to your client and their business.

How to Become a Power Networker

Tell us: What’s the worst dining disaster you’ve witnessed? Let us know in the comment section below…

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette coach and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. She is also the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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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

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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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