One of the most popular things in the business world, when trying to get on the good graces of new clients, it to take them out for a lunch meeting.

Gathering over lunch provides a more private, relaxed setting where you can discuss future business endeavors, while showing your appreciation to new clients. It also provides an excellent opportunity for you to get to know your clients better.

Although these gatherings are a great way to boost your professional relationships, there are several disasters that can sabotage your career while out, that need to be avoided.

The following are a few tips to avoid while taking clients to lunch –

1~ Don’t Reschedule. Before asking a client to lunch, make sure to check your schedule closely. Plans can always change at the last minute, but cancelling on someone can make you look careless or disorganized. Business lunches are meant to impress clients, so make them feel important and keep your plans with them a top priority.

2~ Visit a Favorite Restaurant. Lunch with a client is not the proper time to try a newly opened restaurant and run the risk of receiving poor service or bad food. For these meetings,  it is best to pick a spot where you dine frequently and the staff knows you. This will help make you feel more comfortable, knowing that your client will be well taken care of, ensuring they will enjoy their meal.

3~ Don’t Be the First to Order. Always allow your client to order first, and then follow suit with your meal selection. If they order a light salad, mirror their choice and avoid large portions like a full steak dinner. Doing this will help the meal run more smoothly.

4~ Put Your Phone Away. As with all meetings, before sitting down you should put your phone on silent mode and keep it in your pocket or work bag during the meal. Nothing makes a person feel more unimportant than trying to talk to someone that is constantly checking their phone. Leave your phone tucked away until the lunch is over.

5~ Listening is Key. The best way to get to know your client better is through conversation. Be sure to ask them open-ended questions and listen intently as they talk. This will help to make your conversation flow better and will help make both of you feel more comfortable in each others company.

6~ Use Your Manners. Just because the lunch feels more like a casual encounter does not mean that it’s time to forget your manners. Remember to always use your napkin, chew with your mouth closed and control your alcohol intake. Even if the meeting is at a restaurant, it’s still a meeting and you are there to represent your company.

7~ Always Pay the Check. Because you asked a client to lunch, it is your responsibility to handle the bill. If you want to avoid awkward moments at the table, give the waiter your credit card before your client even arrives, so that everything is taken care of without worry.

Using these tips during your next client luncheon will help make your meeting run smoothly while keeping your professional title at the office, and help you build and grow your relationships.