Collections of a Young Professional.
No. 2 Do’s and Don’ts of Restaurant Meetings.
Working from home can mean a lot of client meetings at local coffee shops. I meet a number of clients only at their business location, only at my business location, or only at their favorite lunch destination. Meeting at restaurant locations are always challenging because you never quite know what you may need to bring. I have become over qualified in the art of packing my office into my bag (MacBook, Moleskine Notebook, Hot Pink Sticky Notes, Multicolored Pens, Chargers, Business Cards, Agenda, and Client Specific Binders). Eventually you become familiar with the local hot spots – you know which ones are quiet, which ones are not conducive for groups over three, and which ones are down right not meant for business.
I may have almost perfected my greeting, my meeting, and my departing… but I still get thrown a curve ball with the least expected. So, here are my tips for scheduling your next brunch and what to expect once you are there:
Email Response: “Sounds Great! Where should we meet?”
That question has always made me pause and over think where I should suggest. You may feel the same way, but don’t let it overwhelm you. To make a decision on your meeting place simply make a list of requirements based on the nature of your business.
Situation: Met at a networking event and want to form a business relationship.
List of Requirements: Professional Hustle & Bustle. Private Tables. Stay as long as you like vibes.
Situation: There are hopes to acquire them as a future client.
List of Requirements: Quiet. Snack Food or Coffee. Lounging.
Situation: Group Brainstorming Session.
List of Requirements: Where do you thrive?! Quite or Bustling? Stay as long as you like vibes.
Bumping into someone unexpectedly….!
It almost always happens, especially if you are in a popular location, so take this to heart and just be prepared. There are a few key things that play a role in who should and should not be introduced to your associate.
Proximity. Greeting. Reputation.
Proximity: If the unexpected run in is at the door and you are already seated acknowledge them with a head nod but do not leave your associate behind to greet them. Nor do you ever ask your associate to stand and walk over to be greeted.
Greeting: If the person has approached you and was important enough for you to stand and hug or shake hands interrupting your meeting then they should absolutely be introduced. If your interaction stops at acknowledgment or a “great to see you!” then your associate does not need to be introduced.
Reputation: After you have considered these first two points consider then what the introduction looks like – understand that whoever you introduce leaves an impression on your associate. Are they another young professional? Are they relevant to the meeting topic? Are they close friends? Are they a friend of a friend of a friend?
Private meetings carry a tone… quiet down please!
Business discussions almost always include private information that should only be shared with the two people discussing it. Your topic of choice could also be something that does not receive a public stamp of approval. No matter if this is the case or not, do not be the loudest in the room! Keep your business quiet and out of the ears of your neighbors.
As my mother would always say, “you never know who is in the room listening.” And you also never know how someone might misconstrued what they heard and warp it into something else. So, keep a professional tone, levels low, and pay attention to your surroundings!
Your hour is up, they are still talking, and the check hasn’t come. Wait, who is getting the check?
If you are in your 20s you are still used to your parents taking you out for dinner, your boss buying you lunch, and hopefully a cute guy buying your movie tickets. So deciding whether or not to buy someone’s meal is still an iffy conversation because you’re not used to it! Here is the simplest way to decide:
////// If you are the one being hosted allow them to purchase the meal! //////
Southern Tip: Still offer to pay!
Take what you need and build your own list of requirements and questions to ask before scheduling your next coffee shop meeting. Still not sure how where to go? Test out locations with your friends! While there make a mental list of food, drinks, vibes, loudness, and intimacy. Each time you have to schedule a meeting choose a place that mimics an experience with a friend – was it quick? was it for studying? did you sit back to lounge? was it too loud to talk? – and you will find the perfect location to impress your associates with a professional meeting destination!
Striving to be Culturally Fluent & Collectively Individual.