The business lunch can be a simple, effective way to make connections with clients or colleagues without the pressure and formality of a more professi
The business lunch can be a simple, effective way to make connections with clients or colleagues without the pressure and formality of a more professional environment. There is no point in overcomplicating it, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t tailor the experience to suit your needs, the needs of the person you’re meeting with, and your own business goals.
There are a lot of creative ways in which you can make slight variations on stereotypical business meetings held at golf courses and restaurants, and many of these strategies can play well into allowing you to communicate what kind of professional relationship you are hoping to achieve.
The best place to meet a professional contact is not always a business-casual restaurant. These places can be effective for facilitating communication between colleagues or between service providers and clients, but there are benefits to switching it up from time to time.
If you are still shooting for the business casual atmosphere, opt for a higher-end restaurant that offers a glimpse into local culture and fare. This allows you to showcase the uniqueness of your community without sacrificing an air of professionalism and gravity.
On the other hand, a casual setting can also do quite nicely. Many communities boast trendy local coffee shops that offer interesting takes on classic beverages and bites. This can also serve you well if you are looking for a lighter fare that won’t lead to distraction or fatigue during an important discussion.
A subtle way to portray yourself as more open-minded and less stuffy is to forego the traditional indoor experience in favor of an outdoor rendezvous. If you have a pristine park in your community, this can be a place to arrange a relaxed and familiar meeting that helps each person get comfortable with the other.
If you don’t want to step so far outside your comfort zone, simply opt for patio or rooftop dining in good weather. This will also give you the opportunity to put the local climate on display.
Put a twist on the familiar
You can also entertain clients and colleagues from the comfort of your own office. Don’t be afraid to change things around to make the space more inviting. Instead of meeting in a conference room, for example, invite them into a private sitting area if you have one.
If you invite them into your office, you can rearrange the furniture so that instead of speaking across a desk, you are sitting face to face in comfortable chairs. You can make clients and colleagues feel at home and, in doing so, open up the door to more direct and amicable communication.
There is nothing wrong with traditional business meeting or business lunch setups. If you are entertaining multiple people, the conference room might be best. Or your client might feel more comfortable in a hotel bar and restaurant if that is a common hot spot for professionals in your community. Make sure, however, that you also feel comfortable, and that you are able to address environmental concerns and tailor the experience to help you and the people you meet with achieve an understanding.