How to Wrap Up a Business Meal

You finally got the potential client to agree to lunch. Now don’t waste this golden opportunity. Follow Modern Manners Guy’s 3 tips to successfully wrap up a business meal.

Richie Frieman,
August 12, 2012
Episode #212

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Tip #2: When I’m Buying… 

As Modern Manners Guy, when someone neglects phrases like “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome,” it sticks in my head as a reminder of a flaw in that person’s character. We’ve all been there, right? You’re with someone, you lend them a hand, and “thank you” goes off the grid. Or when someone asks for something and makes it sound like a command rather than a request. This sort of disrespect always rubs me the wrong way. So when I’m in a business meeting over a nice meal and I’m the one buying, I expect the other person to be appreciative. I’m not saying that you need to name your child after me or bow down in my presence for treating you to lunch, but come on! A simple “Thank you for lunch” is an absolute given. And if it doesn’t materialize, you should be weary of this person.

When you’re wrapping up a business meal and find yourself having to wait for your dinner guest to show appreciation, the best strategy is to take the lead and say the appropriate “thank you” yourself. 

What? What do you mean, Modern Manners Guy? They're the ones being rude! Why should I say “thank you”?

Yes, you’re right, but you can’t stoop down to their level. Instead, kill ‘em with kindness. After all, just because they forgot how to properly act, doesn’t mean you should. So when the meal is winding down, the check has been delivered (and you paid) and all the business is over, wait for the person to thank you… and wait… and wait. And when they don’t bother to remember their manners, you should try something like, “Well, thanks for coming out to lunch with me. I hope you had a good time and I look forward to chatting again soon.” 

Hopefully this will prompt (or shame) them to show appreciation. If they still don’t bother by the time you walk out the door to leave, say it again. Now, if they still don’t…well, have them email me because clearly they need my help. 

Wrapping up a business meal with manners shows that you can talk business, have a good time, and act like a well evolved adult—even when others can’t. 

Tip #3: Call Me Maybe

There’s a pop song out these days called, “Call Me Maybe” that haunts my dreams. My 4-year-old daughter insists on listening to it around the clock and I’m pretty sure I can recite it word for word in my sleep. However annoying the song is, its title “Call Me Maybe” is a good description of what you are really trying to tell the person with whom you’re having a business meal.  As I said earlier, failing to schedule a follow-up meeting or leaving the meal with unanswered questions means you’ve wasted a golden opportunity. Exchanging cards and saying “let’s keep in touch” isn’t the same as “let’s do this again next Thursday.” And that’s what you really want. 

When your business meal is about to end, use this time to request another meeting or follow-up. But do it with tact. No one wants to feel like they’re being steamrolled. Try something like, “I’m actually going to be by your office in two weeks for a meeting. Want to grab coffee or lunch?” Or “I’m glad you liked this place. I just read about another restaurant just 10 minutes away that’s even better. I was planning on going next Wednesday. Want to join me?” Use the end of the meal (when everyone is happily full)  to set up future plans. The point is that you want to stay in the picture with your potential business opportunity, rather than getting lost in the back of the line.

Do you have a great story about a business meeting?  Post all the details in the comment section below or on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook page. 

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.