Business Dinner Etiquette

See also: Conversational Skills

Top Tips for Surviving Business Dinners in 13 Countries

We recently contacted a range of business experts, authors, coaches, leaders and entrepreneurs to uncover their secrets behind running an effective business meeting.

The article provides a great overview of the things you need to do before, during and after a business meeting to ensure its initial success and its ongoing impact.

But business meetings are just one small part of business relationships and ultimately business transactions.

To truly succeed in business and gain a competitive edge means using a wide range of skills, in a range of environments. You might be the king of the boardroom and you might run the most effective business meetings known to mankind.

But how would you deal with a business dinner in an unfamiliar country?

Business dinners can be stressful at the best of times, managing clients in an unfamiliar and informal environment can offer up a range of unpredictable challenges.

Combining this with the unfamiliarity of a different country can easily lead to a disastrous-offense causing-relationship-ending business dinner.

Before we take a look at global business dinner etiquette it’s useful to have a good level of general business dinner etiquette in your own country before you venture further afield, so here are the basics:

  • Order something that won’t be messy to eat: the other way of thinking of this is not to turn up hungry, remember you’re primarily there for business, or at least business representation that will aid future negotiations, so don’t think of the food as the primary concern. Order something that is easy and quick to eat.
  • Don’t get drunk: In nearly all cases getting drunk at a business dinner is unacceptable and, while it may seem like a great idea at the time, it’s likely to have unforeseen repercussions that will come back to bite you.
  • Don’t use your smartphone: or at least not too much. Yes, you may be in a quite informal setting but you’re there to build business relationships, not get the highest score on Candy Crush.
  • Be polite to the waiters: even if the service is terrible and you’re tempted to take it out on the waiters, remember that your behaviour over a business dinner is being watched. If you can’t handle the stress of a restaurant mishap, then would you really make a reliable business partner?
  • Check out the menu before you arrive: for real brownie points read the restaurant’s menu before you arrive. You will seem knowledgeable and can keep your mind on business when you are there, rather than concentrating on the menu.

And if you’re really setting out to make an impact, our top tip to impress when meeting potential new business partners overseas is to have your business card printed on both sides: one side as normal and a translated side with all details in the language of your host nation.

International Customs and Traditions

Once you’re set to venture overseas, this infographic covers some of the basic business dinner etiquette from around the world, covering 13 countries and offering some basic tips that might just help you in making your first foreign business dinner a success:

  • How you should greet your future business partners?
  • When and where to sit without causing offence?
  • Rules and traditions around the drinking of alcohol?
  • When and how to introduce the topic of business?
Business Dinner Etiquette