10 tips to get through a business meal with grace

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the Opportunity Scholars Etiquette Luncheon was a great way to kick off November, a month seasoned with gratitude and good company.

Traditionally, this luncheon has always opened by giving students a chance to express what they are grateful for and why. Marina Neofitos, a senior in the program, began the meeting by saying she is most grateful for the community she has been a part of here at the David Eccles School of Business. She further explained that she has never felt afraid to make mistakes throughout her undergraduate career knowing that everyone at the Eccles School wants her to succeed, learn and grow.

Other Opportunity Scholars such as Kevin Nhan, Janet Tran, Michelle Galvez and myself touched upon how grateful we are for the Opportunity Scholars program, Rich Kafusi and Latu Kinikini, our mentors, and the other programs we have been involved in within the David Eccles School of Business.

Career coach Mike Brammer then explained the importance of etiquette and wht it may be useful to know in the future. As future graduates and business professionals, many of us will likely find ourselves in situations where we are discussing business or interviewing over a meal. Knowing how to properly present ourselves can help seal the deal and make these somewhat nerve-wracking conversations more comfortable. Here are the top 10 things to keep in mind:

  1. When scheduling a meeting with someone, it is important to confirm the time and place ahead of time so you can make a reservation. After making that reservation, be sure to research parking options and commute times.
  2. Introduce yourself with your full name. Shake their hand firmly, but comfortably.
  3. Mimic your guest or host. Order similarly priced items and dress one level above the standard of dress they are likely going to be wearing. Also take into consideration the setting of the meal. Upscale restaurants equate to more professional clothing and more casual restaurants require more casual clothing.
  4. When eating your roll, tear off pieces and then butter each piece individually.
  5. In terms of utensils, work your way inward. Outer utensils should be utilized first! Also remember that your bread is on your left and your drink is on your right.
  6. Focus on the conversation, not the meal! Be present and engaging in order to accomplish the goal of the rendezvous. If you do not finish, it’s ok. It is better not to take a box to go.
  7. It is optimal to stand whenever someone new arrives to the table and introduce them to the others. When in doubt, introduce others because it will increase the value in the conversation and make everyone feel more included.
  8. Keep all your personal items off the table. More importantly, keep your phone off and put away. Taking it out could be a huge sign of disrespect. If you have to take it out, excuse yourself first.
  9. Be sure to follow up with them afterward and thank them for meeting with you.
  10. Treat everyone you are in contact with during the meeting well because the way you act reflects upon you as a business professional and person. No one wants to hire a person who is rude to servers because it will likely translate into their interpersonal relationships in the company as well.

Kelly Barnett, a member of the Opportunity Scholars board, then took a moment to speak about the “Business of Gratitude.” As a mentor to many Opportunity Scholars and as a first-generation student himself, Barnett is familiar with the struggles many students in the program have faced. Thus, being grateful for all we have as first-generation students in higher education is hugely important to all of us.

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