Business Dining Etiquette 

Good manners are a necessity that should come naturally, since you will need to concentrate on the business at hand.

When meeting clients or co-workers for a meal:

  • Be punctual. Arrive at least 5 minutes early.
  • Greet all with a firm handshake and a friendly, confident manner.
  • Follow your host's lead to the table. If you are the host, lead your guests to the table.
  • Help the woman to your right with her chair.
  • Remain standing until women are seated.
  • If you are the host, allow your guests to order before you order.
  • If you are a guest, order moderately.
  • Be careful to order food that is not too messy to eat politely. Order food that is easy to eat while carrying on a conversation.
  • Stay away from alcohol.
  • Do not smoke at the table.
  • Turn your cell phone off
  • Purchase an etiquette book for easy reference

Table Etiquette

  • Place your napkin in your lap when you first sit down at the table.
  • Eat with your free hand in your lap.
  • Do not place arms or elbows on the table during the meal.
  • Use silverware from the outside first. If you are in doubt, watch what others do.
  • In the United States, meals are served properly from the left and cleared from the right.
  • If the bread tray, the butter, the salad dressing, the salt and pepper, the cream and sugar are in front of your place at the table, you should start passing these to all at the table when each might be needed - beginning with the person on your right.
  • Put your silverware down on your plate between bites.
  • Make sure to converse with the people to your immediate right and left, but also be aware of the general conversation at the table.
  • At the end of the meal, do not stack your plates. When you have finished eating, place your fork and knife parallel to each other across the top of your plate, knife above fork.
  • When the meal is over, fold your napkin and place it on the table to the left of your plate before you stand.
  • If you are the host, thank your guests for coming. If you are not the host, be sure to thank the host for the meal at the conclusion of the meal.
  • If you are not the host, do not stand until the host has begun to stand.
  • Help the woman to your right with her chair.
  • Push your chair in to the table.
  • Lead or follow your group from the table, depending on whether or not you are the host.
  • Shake hands with your host or your guests as they leave and thank them again.
  • It is always correct to send a written thank-you to your host.