In corporate America, dining out with colleagues, managers, and clients is a career-long activity. Do you take advantage of this superb business opportunity?
A business meal takes place in an ideal environment to build relationships and share ideas. Throughout history, breaking bread has been a natural bonding experience.
Maximize your ROI in this setting by eliminating all distractions and situations where you could second guess yourself. Focus on the business at hand: developing a relationship with your dining partners.
Here are three of the most effective ways to zero in on ‘getting to know you’:
• Research the menu before you arrive at the restaurant. Choose a few dishes that you would be happy eating. If you have a few ideas in mind, while others are poring over the menu, you are able to be ‘all ears’ at the table.
• Choose one handed dishes- like gnocchi or meatloaf or quiche or a fillet of fish. This way, you’re not struggling to cut a tough piece of meat or sawing your knife into a chicken bone. Beware of salads. I’m all for greens, but lettuce is tough to stab- especially watercress. Soup is a great choice except French Onion Soup which is impossible to eat gracefully.
• Besides walking into the meal with your own goals in mind, prepare some open ended questions to ask your fellow diners so you can listen and learn about them… while eating your food. When you discover common interests with your dining companions, the relationship begins to genuinely grow.
Don’t know what to talk about? Generate ideas for topics of discussion by researching your fellow diners to get a sense of hobbies and interests. Reading the NY Times will provide a plethora of wonderful topics for conversation. When in doubt, start with the topic of restaurants; after all, dining out is the sport of choice for many these days.
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