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How to Make the Most of Lunch Meetings

Lunch meetings can create a bit more pressure than a typical in-office meeting or a conference call. There are elements that aren’t typically a factor in those meetings that can arise during a lunch meeting. Getting distracted by the hustle and bustle of a restaurant, improper social or table etiquette, allergies, and more are some of those factors to name a few. Here are some ways to combat the outside factors that could lead to an unproductive lunch meeting, and help make your meeting successful and effective.

Set an Agenda
Just as you would with any other meeting, organize an agenda and share it with the person, client, or prospect you are meeting with prior to the lunch. Consider important background information, and be sure you’re as prepared as possible to stick to the agenda and satisfy all related questions or discussion points.

Consider Allergies or Food Restrictions
As you request the lunch meeting, be sure to consider any allergies or food restrictions, and make sure the person you are meeting with will be in a comfortable scenario. Otherwise, if there are no food options for the person you requested the meeting with, it might make for an uncomfortable meeting for you and them.

Consider Meeting Purpose and Restaurant Ambiance
As you select the restaurant for the lunch, make sure you consider the type of restaurant you choose and if will be appropriate for the agenda at hand. For example, if this lunch meeting is fairly casual, a more laid back atmosphere with background noise is appropriate. If this lunch meeting is with a high-profile individual, somewhere more upscale and quiet is more appropriate. Consider that when choosing a restaurant, as the restaurant chosen will be something that stands out to the person you meet with.

Be Punctual
Make sure you are about 10 minutes early, and that you are seated first to start the meeting off in control. Being late to a meeting in general is bad practice, but being late to an in-person lunch meeting could be detrimental to the flow and effectiveness of the meeting.

Don’t Forget Table Manners
Sometimes you can get swept up in a lunch meeting, and forget you’re actually in a meeting. Don’t forget your table manners. Be respectful to servers, and make sure the person you’re meeting with is taken care of. Don’t talk with your mouth full, and pick up the tab.

Keep Your Purpose Top of Mind
Make sure to allow for casual, small talk, but to also accomplish the goals and agenda of the meeting. Make sure to take notes (if necessary) and to remember that you’re in a meeting which will likely result in follow up and take away items. It’d be counterproductive to forget or breeze through important items to talk through because you’re in a more comfortable setting.

Lunch meetings are a great way to bridge the gap of the typical meeting, and to create personal relationships with customers, clients, and prospects. By keeping these reminders top of mind, you’ll be able to execute an enjoyable, effective lunch meeting.