How to Succeed at Business Meals, 'Mad Men' Style

Roger Sterling and Don Draper show us the way — and nail it, sometimes


We've talked a lot about how to entertain à la Mad Men before, with home-cooked meals and 1960s-inspired parties. But a recent episode depicting Lane Pryce's inevitable fail with a Jaguar exec  at dinner made us stop and think — what's the right way to do a business meal?

Esquire has already broken down how Roger Sterling does it, and it's not half bad. While the scotch on the rocks may be troublesome in today's business environment, he's a closer. "Get your answers; be nice to the waiter; don't let him near the check," says Esquire. While we'd follow Don Draper and the rest of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's cues for other aspects of life (except maybe their personal lives), we've rounded up the best business meal etiquette tips so you don't pull a Pryce:

A business meal isn't really a meal: It's a chance to engage with whomever you're with, whether that be for a job or a new opportunity, says the Wisconsin Alumni Assocation. Order something small so that you're not constantly pausing to chew giant bites.

Plan ahead: If you're the host, it's your job to make sure the restaurant is the right atmosphere for a friendly meal — one where you can actually hear over the bustle of a restaurant, business etiquette expert Lydia Ramsey advises. Also, it's not the time to test-drive the newest hot spot in town; take your dining partner to a place you can trust for good service and food.

Take social cues from your superiors: Ordering during a dinner can be tricky, but see what your partner does. If he orders desserts or drinks, you can mimic his choices. Otherwise, play it on the safe side and order light.

Timing is everything: Timing is crucial when bringing up business. Says Ramsey: "At breakfast, time is short so get down to business quickly. At lunch, wait until you have ordered so you won't be interrupted. Dinner, the more social occasion, is a time for rapport building. Limit the business talk and do it after the main course is completed."

Call off the three-martini rule: While Draper might have gotten away with it, chances are you won't. While a glass of wine or a cocktail is generally OK, don't let you — or your guests — get carried away. Ramsey says you can quietly step away from the table and advise the waiter to halt on the refills if drunken debauchery is inevitable.

Be grateful, especially when the check comes: If you're not the one treating, it goes without saying to have good manners. Thank your host!
 


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