I’ve shared my thoughts on general cheque splitting protocol but breaking bread over business deserves its own discussion. If you’re asking someone for lunch, dinner or a cocktail to talk shop, the traditional expectation is that whoever extends the invitation picks up the bill and suggests the location. The language in your invitation should reflect this, “I’d like to take you to lunch to get your thoughts on …” If there is any ambiguity when the bill arrives at the table, pay for it: save yourself the grief, it is not worth the awkwardness.
And avoid the ostentatious shooter behaviour by making a big show of you paying for the meal. It’s gauche and lame, and I promise you, you won’t impress anyone and will just come off looking like a try-hard.
Before you embark on some serious lunchtime networking, (easy, young guns!) find out your company’s parameters for expensing business meals. Some organizations aren’t ok with a lunch time tipple, so if you want a glass of wine over lunch, you might have to pay for that out of your own pocket (and your guests’ for that matter). That said, some meetings might well be worth your time, even if your company won’t foot the bill.
Of course, follow up your chat with a nice email thanking your guest for their time/ideas/work, etc. And tip accordingly!
Questions, comments and conundrums are most welcome at www.twitter.com/schoolfinishing
~ Karen Cleveland