5 Tips for Taking Tech Clients Out to Dinner
When you take your clients out to dinner, be genuine.
22:53 14 June 2022
Do you take clients out to dinner on a regular basis? Maybe you only take them out periodically, or you’re just about to start taking them out. Either way, dinners are an opportunity to impress your clients. However, impressing tech clients is sometimes a little different.
Tech clients tend to be a little more casual simply because the tech world is full of younger entrepreneurs who have largely rejected the business norms of the past.
For instance, you’ll find playgrounds, games, meditation rooms, and giant beanbags in many of the top tech offices in Silicon Valley. It’s not just fun and games, however. People are more productive when they’re comfortable.
With these differences in mind, here are some tips for impressing your tech clients when you take them out to dinner.
- Hire a chauffeur
Nothing will impress a client more than hiring a chauffeur service for the evening. Hiring a driver tells your client several things:
- You’re willing to spend money on their comfort
- You value their time and want them to have a good experience
- You’re a generous person
- You value their time
You probably don’t want to hire a chauffeur if you’re just meeting your client at a small coffee shop or local diner. If your meeting is that casual, hiring a driver would be over the top. However, if you’re taking your client out to a steakhouse or nice restaurant, hiring a driver will help to create an overall positive experience.
- Don’t be too stuffy or formal
It’s perfectly okay to take your clients out to formal restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you need to be over-the-top formal in your interactions. Dress the part and be respectful, but don’t forget that you’re interacting with a human being who probably values a sincere connection over aesthetic formalities.
- Know business dinner etiquette
The basics of business dinner etiquette are simple. When you’re at the table:
- Let your client order first
- Keep your phone turned off
- Don’t order alcohol unless it’s culturally appropriate
- Listen more than you speak
- Wait until everyone has been served to start eating
- Don’t eat the bread before the main course arrives
In addition to practical etiquette, remember to embrace conversational etiquette. Be generous enough to ask your client to share more and treat the dinner as a way to get to know them rather than a way to close the deal. There are exceptions, of course, if you’re in a different place. However, most dinners are ideal for building rapport and trust with a client.
- Make a reservation
Most importantly, make a reservation. Never trust that a restaurant will have a table available when you show up to meet your client. If you take a chance and all the tables are full, it will be embarrassing to have to wait in the lobby with your client.
If they’re a more casual client, you can always chat with them while you wait for a table, but it’s not going to feel very professional. The first thing they’ll think is that you should have made a reservation.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, call ahead and reserve a table. If the restaurant you want to visit doesn’t accept reservations, choose another restaurant. It’s not worth risking the potential unavailability.
- Pay for the entire meal out of sight
When you’re entertaining a client for dinner, you’ll want to pay the bill out of their sight. Don’t wait for the wait staff to drop the check on the table. Even though you can theoretically grab it first and pay, there’s a chance the client might pick it up first or feel awkward if the wait staff places the check in front of them.
To avoid awkward feelings, arrange to pay for the meal out of your client’s sight. You can do this in several ways. The restaurant may allow you to give them your card and hold it like they do at a bar and then charge you at the end. Or, before you’re done with your meal, excuse yourself from the table to use the restroom and go pay for the meal.
Impress your clients by being authentic
Although table manners and respect will go a long way to impress your clients, so will being authentic. No matter how well-dressed and well-mannered you are, clients will always be impressed by authenticity. So, when you take your clients out to dinner, be genuine, and if you’re a match, they’ll appreciate and enjoy the experience more because of your authenticity.