Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Art of the Business Lunch by Robin Jay

When I was asked to host Robin Jay and her book The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships between 12 and 2 I wanted to do something different than what I usually do. So, this time around I asked Robin to come up with a hypothetical business lunch conversation and how it might play out.

A client lunch affords you the opportunity to build relationships, but also to provide greater service to your client in a social setting – which is somewhat more relaxed than a traditional office meeting.

You’ve just met your client at a restaurant. You are selling advertising for a radio station….they work for an advertising agency that buys advertising from you. Pleasantries are over and you’re both looking at the menu.

You: What looks good to you today?

Client: I'm leaning toward the steak salad….

You: Sounds great. I think I might go that way, too.

More chit chat…

Server takes your orders; brings soft drinks, water, bread.

You: So….What’s going on? What have you been working on lately?

Client: We recently got a new client.

You: REALLY? Who is it?

Client: The Fabulous ‘50’s Hotel & Casino.

You: What a great account! How’d you get it!?

Client: We pitched them along with three other agencies and they loved our concept!

You: What was it?

Client: We did a parody of “Happy Days” – the bartenders were in white T-shirts, the girls were in poodle skirts and ponytails…it really captured the era they wanted. We did tons of research on it and nailed every detail.

You: Awesome! What kind of advertising program do you think they’ll do….how can I help?

Client: We’re not really there yet. Why – what did you have in mind?

You: Well, having just heard about it, I need to brainstorm with our program director…but the concept is so much fun…I’m sure we can create some excitement. How about a remote broadcast at the resort…we could try to get the local Drive-In to participate. We could have roller-skating waitresses…we could get a big-name band from the ‘50’s…and we could have a contest to win a pink Cadillac! I am sure we could get several sponsors to come on board.

Client: That sounds awesome! We need to see what their budget is going to be. We have a big budget meeting on Friday.

You: Let me know how it goes. I’m sure that with some sponsors, we can make a huge splash in town! Hey – could we “cater” the budget meeting with ‘50’s food – chili dogs, burgers, shakes and fries? I could get them from the Sonic Drive in and drop them off. I think it would help you to make a big splash at what could otherwise be a stuffy budget meeting.

Server brings entrees.

You: This looks delicious! Have you ever had the steak salad here before?

Client: No, but you’re right – it looks great.

As the meal progresses, you continue to brainstorm “Fabulous ‘50’s” ideas not just for the grand opening, but also for an extended period of six months, to establish the new hotel & casino in the local market.

Throughout the meal, you maintain enthusiasm for the client, their projects and their client’s interests. You work hard to make your client look good to THEIR client by being there, offering suggestions and then follow-through and deliver support on your earlier suggestions.

When you are comfortable and confident and put your client’s interests first, a business lunch should flow smoothly. You’re not there to complain (or boast) about your personal life, your work life, or anything else going on in your life other than to say, “Everything’s great!” or a similar expression. You are there to help them do better business.

For more advice, read “The Art of the Business Lunch.” You’ll discover conversational topics to avoid, whether or not it’s okay to drink alcohol at a client lunch, how to ace a job interview business lunch and much more.

You can purchase your copy of The Art of the Business Lunch at To follow Robin's tour all month long, you can visit One lucky person who comments on any of her blog stops during the month of April is eligible to win a free copy of The Art of the Business Lunch.

This virtual book tour has been brought to you by:

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