Dining With Your Briefcase: Business Dinner Etiquette

Going out to a nice restaurant for a first or second date has its own set of politics to keep in line with. What to wear, how much to dominate the conversation, who pays for the meal?  The dynamic of dating is changing and has been for years now—largely due to feminism ideals and partially due to our current economic situation.  In such trying financial times it’s a little more understandable for a date not to pay for your valet ticket and dinner and wine and dessert, lots of women like to help out with a couple of those nowadays.

The dynamic of business dinners is also changing.  In the same way that dinner dates can be a bit of an awkward power struggle, so can business dinners.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind when dining with business on the brain:

Dress for the office.

Your main intention when attending a business dinner is to in fact do business, so dress the part.  Even if you are indulging in the ritziest of dining experiences, a pencil skirt, silk blouse, and heels are more appropriate than a cocktail dress accompanied by a plunging neckline for what it is you want to accomplish.

Handle the business first.

It is entirely too difficult to enjoy three courses of food while passing charts and graphs back and fourth.  If you have any visuals or pamphlets for those involved to look at when discussing your business at hand, do it before the food arrives.  A bread roll in one hand and paper in the other isn’t too difficult to manage.

The question of payment.

Obviously, if the dinner consists of the employees of one business it is assumed the company will take care of the bill. Where it gets tricky is if there are two or more businesses eating and working with one another.  Come time for the check, the business that initiated the dinner should be expected to pay.  If the meeting was a mutual decision, the biggest business (in terms of size and revenue) should offer.

Stick to these tips while dining with your briefcase and never get caught feeling like you’re on an awkward first date ever again!

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1 thought on “Dining With Your Briefcase: Business Dinner Etiquette

  1. Deborah, this article was informative.  What attire to wear to a business dinner has always had me wondering.  It seems like your suggestion of a pencil skirt and top would be the way to go, anything else and I don’t believe a woman would be taken as seriously.  It would seem more like a date if she were to wear some low plunging cocktail dress. 

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