Whether you're dining with peers at a convention or meeting with a vendor, lunch etiquette can keep you from marring your image with a faux pas.
Here are five for business meals, according to Robin Jay, author of The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2.
1. Never, ever talk with your mouth full. Instead, Jay says, take small bites, so you can quickly swallow if somebody asks you a question.
2. Come prepared with a few casual, nonbusiness topics in mind. It helps you avoid awkward silences. People enjoy giving their thoughts on subjects like travel, sports and movies.
3. Always be kind to the wait staff, no matter what happens. Anyone who is nice to you but nasty to the server is not a nice person.
4. Know your lunch partner’s business. It’s especially key when your tablemate is someone you’d like to impress, but the rule holds true regardless. The fewer times you have to say (or think), “I didn’t know that!” the more impressed the other party will be. How to steal this idea: Take a few minutes to do a Google search before you leave for lunch.
5. Put some thought into choosing the right restaurant. Too casual or inexpensive and the person may not feel valued. Too expensive and they may perceive you as wasteful. When in doubt, suggest that the other person pick the place.
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