Business people regularly entertain clients at lunches, dinners and various social events. How many employees will portray the image of their company’s brand and will their personal image fit in with the brand? Having good social skills enhances your personal and professional image and reputation. It can also give you the edge and stand you out from the crowd.
The fundamental role of a good host is to make sure your guests are comfortable, relaxed and enjoying themselves. Good etiquette creates an environment that allows everyone to feel at ease.
Dress code: As a host or guest it is always advisable to dress on the side of conservative sensibility: dress well and in good taste and observe any rules. As the host, advise your guests any rules, and provide guidance as to appropriate wear as what you may consider is smart may not be what your guests do and vice a versa. For example – Smart Casual e.g. Men – trousers, jacket and no tie, Women – dress, skirt or trousers and top but no jeans.
The demeanour of the event will very much be lead by you as the host and is the ideal time to show your personality, but at the same time remember you will represent the brand of your company.
- Arrive approximately 30 minutes before your guests.
- Planning – check that everything is organised and planned to your requirements.
- Greet everyone with a firm, sincere handshake, a friendly smile and direct eye contact.Kissing on the cheeks should be avoided unless you are close friends, as many people find this uncomfortable..
- Introductions – formally, you should introduce lower ranking individuals to higher ranking individuals and it is appropriate to include titles (e.g., Dr., Judge, etc.) and name prefix (e.g., Mr., Mrs. Ms.). If you are on first name terms and in a more relaxed atmosphere then you may prefer to use first names only.
- Mingle – mingling amongst your guests is very important but can be nerve wracking. Try to find topics of interest you have in common or gain information of ones you don’t e.g. your guest may well be a keen rower, and understand the rules more than you. Remember, always smile and look happy to your guests.
- Relax and smile – be relaxed otherwise your guests will not relax. Make every effort to show you are enjoying yourself but remember you are there to ensure your guests enjoy themselves.
- Partner – when partners are included ensure your partner introduces her or himself and uses the same tips.
If you are new at corporate entertaining, remember it gets easier with practise. Observe good hosts when you are entertained.
If in another country or in unfamiliar territory it is best to do some research. Key is to be relaxed and ensure your guests enjoy the event.
- Be on time – Don’t arrive too early or be late, arrive within 10 – 15 minutes of the time given.
- Conversation – Listen and avoid interruptions, contribute to conversation and pick topics that involve everyone.
- Compliments – give and take compliments gracefully.
- Drink – wait to be offered a drink and don’t over indulge on alcohol.
- Meal – wait for all guests to receive their food and the host starts their meal.
- Thank you – email or text if that is your usual way of corresponding but strictly speaking I always think it is best to write a letter of thanks. You will always be remembered and you show your full appreciation.