Business Meetings 101: How to Find the Perfect Restaurant

The right venue ensures all parties are comfortable. The wrong one can lead to stress and poor decision-making.

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By Murray Newlands

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Choosing the location of an important meeting is crucial in business.

The right venue ensures all parties are comfortable and the meeting achieves its objectives. The wrong venue can lead to stress, discomfort, hunger and poor decision-making.

Imagine a client is selling you something, but you can't hear a thing they're saying. There's commotion; the crowd is raucous; and the menu is terrible, leaving you hungry and cranky. You want to leave and go somewhere quiet to get your favorite steak salad.

Is that salesperson going to leave with a deal? Probably not.

Here, four meetings and the types of restaurants that are best for each.

Related: Stop Pretending and Just Be Yourself

1. Closing a deal

When you want to close a sale, look for a restaurant that's impressive with a quiet ambiance. The biggest mistake you can make is choosing a loud restaurant with tables that are too close together.

You want an intimate setting where your prospect can be completely honest with you, and you can be honest right back when negotiating terms. When it's loud, you may not be able to hear and fully listen to what your prospect is saying. If tables are too close together, your prospect might fear others are listening, and it doesn't open the conversation to honesty.

You also want a restaurant with fine dining, impeccable service and an extended meal so you have plenty of time to get the deal done. Choose one with three courses and a sommelier if you have the budget.

The first course is for rapport building; the second, to close the deal and ask directly for the business. Save the last course for working out the finer points. If the business isn't happening, use the last course to flush out why.

2. Networking

Networking is great for referrals, and it's a perfect lunchtime activity. Choose your spot wisely. Given that you don't know your colleague's financial situation, always choose a location that's halfway between both you and your networking cohort. Pick a few restaurants in reasonable price points, and let them choose, in case they can't afford a pricier meal.

Your new colleague may also have dietary restrictions you are unaware of, especially since you've just recently met. Letting them choose puts the ball in their court.

Always have a goal to determine what your colleague is looking for in a networking partner, and don't forget to follow up.

Related: Why I Don't Want to Have Coffee With You

3. Team building

For a strong team, managers should take their team out for happy hour or a meal at least once a month. It opens up the team for rapport building, getting to know their manager better, and of course, everyone loves free drinks and food. Due to budget constraints, this may not be the easiest task, but it should be done.

The best environments are ones that induce fraternization amongst the staff, which might include activities -- a local restaurant/bar possibly within walking distance that has board games, happy hour pricing and high energy allows your employees to de-stress.

You may want to peruse Yelp or spend a little time researching to find something new. Whether its karaoke, upscale bowling or a theme bar, you might want to move outside your management comfort zone and add something new that allows your employees to engage.

4. One-on-one

Meeting with a subordinate for a meal can be either a lot of fun or a dreaded moment for feedback and boring chitchat. This is an opportunity to get to know your employee better, so ask him or her to choose the restaurant, as long as it's within budget and a reasonable distance.

If they choose something outrageous, give the subordinate several options that are feasible, and let him or her know why you are giving them those choices. Always, of course, have a goal during your one-on-one.

Related: 5 Rules for Successful Meetings

Murray Newlands

Entrepreneur, business advisor and online-marketing professional

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and speaker. He is the founder of chatbot builder tool and Read his blog

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