Breaking Bread

Breaking Bread

The etiquette of business lunching

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Foodie  Foodie Your Guide to Good Taste  on 17 Apr '16

In Hong Kong, business lunches are an important occasion for everything from meeting new clients and interviewing potential candidates to closing a deal. They are an effective way to create a relaxed environment for your discussion but there are also a few rules to follow if you want to get the most out of your meeting meals

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Arrive early.

Find a seat, remove your jacket and settle yourself. You’ll feel calmer and more at ease than if you are trying to shrug off your jacket while putting away your phone to shake hands.

Stand up when you meet.

It might sound obvious, but it’s an important first marker of respect to your dining partner and also the opportunity to present a good handshake to start things off strong.

Pen and notebook.

Yes, it’s old school. Even if it means you’ll transfer it to your phone later. The problem with taking notes on your phone is you can’t simply tell whether you’re taking notes, texting, or scrolling social media. A phone barrier between you and your client gives off the vibe that you aren't paying attention, even when you are. Pen and paper are a professional way to get ideas down and generate the feeling that you are taking this meeting seriously. This also leads to the next point:

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Put your phone away.

Don’t let it ring and never answer. Even if your dining partner does, simply fight the urge to check your own. You want to be approachable, respectful and establish a good rapport. You can’t do this with your eyes focused on a screen and you want to promote the image that you can concentrate on the business at hand, even when others are distracted.

Order something easy to eat.

That means no burgers and no ramen. Even if the restaurant you’re at is renowned for a certain hard-to-eat dish, come back another time with a friend you don’t mind spilling in front of or getting your hands greasy with. When dining for business, you want salads or meat and two veg kind of meals that require little effort to ingest so you can be thinking about the million other things you want to convey to your captive audience.

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Guide the conversation.

Whether or not you are the host, have questions, both business and personal, prepared for conversation stimulators. People want to do business with people they like, and the simplest way to make yourself likable is by listening and asking questions knowledgeably.

Make the move to pay.

Even if you don’t plan on paying, you always have to make the motion to do so. If in doubt, go halves and split the bill. Offering to pay your share will always be better than assuming someone else will get it.

Treat the restaurant staff respectfully.

This is just a good tip for life. It’s something you should be doing anyway but in this context it’s especially important to remember that other people will view you on how you treat others, as well as how you treat them. If you’re courteous to those serving you at lunch, chances are you’ll apply the same courtesy to business dealings. Courtesy and professionalism go hand in hand, and this is always the image you want to convey.

Find the right venue.

Ideal business lunch spots should be busy but also house the capability for conversation. Restaurants with high ceilings are often ideal for this purpose, ensuring conversations remain private yet have a comfortable buzz about them. If a restaurant offers a set lunch, it can be a good way of ensuring limited options for a reasonable price. Reservations are always a good idea, especially in Hong Kong where everywhere is booked come 12:30pm, and you don’t want to be struggling to find somewhere with a table or queuing with the masses.

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Now that you’ve prepped for that business lunch, here are a few spots on Food Street at Fashion Walk that provide great business lunch options:

el Born: Offering a new set lunch promotion on paella and tapas for two for $248.

Shop D, G/F, 58-64 Paterson Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay (Food Street)

Tel: 2341 0380

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Elephant Grounds: A comfortable dining option for a long lunch or casual coffee.

Shop C, G/F, Food Street, 42-48 Paterson Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay (Food Street)

Tel: 2562 8688

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MINH & KOK: This unique fusion of Vietnamese and Thai cuisine is great value with delicious flavours.

Shop C&D, G/F, Food Street, 66-72 Paterson Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay (Food Street)

Tel: 2267 8366

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