Dining with clients should be an enjoyable experience with the potential for deals to be made. However, if you’re more nervous about which fork to use or how to correctly eat your soup, your focus will be anywhere but on the deal at hand!
Further, your character at the table sets the stage for how you will be perceived by your associates and potential clients. We have compiled a few of tips to give you the confidence at your next networking or dining event:
If you’re with a group at a networking event, remember to position yourselves in a “U-shape.” Often times, without even realizing, individuals will stand in a closed “O-shape”, which can make others feel isolated and make your group look less approachable.
The goal of a networking event is to meet other people; by standing in a U-shape you are keeping yourselves open to making new connections.
Feeling nervous? Act as if you are the host of the event. While playing this role ask yourself questions such as “does everyone have a drink?” and “has everyone had a chance to meet a few of the new people?” You could take this opportunity to make introductions between people you already know.
By acting as host you can push away any insecurities you have and focus on the goal at hand – meeting and talking to everyone! Another plus: If you focus on making others feel welcome, you will naturally feel more included yourself.
Be prepared! Review the wine menu in advance so you know what your options will be when it comes to ordering. This can help you feel less overwhelmed.
If you feel intimidated by individuals who swirl, smell, and taste their wines in a dramatic fashion – remember that large movements aren’t necessary. You can still achieve results of bringing out the aromas and flavors without swirling a tsunami in your wine glass!
If you are the guest at a business lunch, keep your ordering at pace with the host. Order the same courses they order (and not more) and keep your order at a median price level, or match your host. It is advisable to never go over the host’s meal price range.
Be polite to the wait staff. Your character at the table is all your business partners (or potential employers/ clients) can rely on when predicting how you will interact with them or their company.