About the Chapters

The Art of Professional Connections:
Dining Strategies for
Building & Sustaining Business Relationships


Dining Strategies for Building and Sustaining Business Relationships are not just about what knife or fork to use. There is much more involved. Whether you are interviewing over a meal, attending company meetings at the finest restaurants, trying to decipher a complicated menu and make an educated wine selection, or selecting the most effective seating arrangement, it is all about handling yourself with ease and confidence as you build solid business relationships.


Sub-chapters: Dining Decorum | Achieve “Master Diner” Status | Case Study Scenarios | Review

1 Restaurant

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To understand the rules, guidelines, and expectations when organizing or participating in business meals, both casual and formal.
  • To realize that superior people skills are required to gain the competitive edge and establish successful partnerships.
  • To recognize that for a “master diner,” proper dining etiquette is always putting others at ease and understanding how to blend traditional and modern approaches to dining.

Doing business over a meal accompanies just about every event or meeting. Achieving “master diner” status is key. The master is always thinking ahead and knows how to read his or her guests’ comfort level. He or she understands every aspect of dining decorum. The meal can be as simple as a meeting over coffee or as elaborate as a formal business lunch. Whichever the case, there is a process involved that helps you achieve a productive meeting.

Globalization and the Internet has brought people together in unprecedented ways exposing us to a wide range of dining styles and expectations. This chapter will get you started. 

Sub-chapters: Your “BMW” Table Map | Table Service | Menu Cards and Place Setting Illustrations | Eating Styles and Utensil Usage | Table Signals that Improve Service | Table Setting Plate Variations | Identifying and Array of Eating Utensils and Glassware | Review

2 PlaceSetting

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To familiarize you with all of the components of a table setting, from plates and glassware to a wide variety of utensils.
  • To identify the different eating styles and how they are properly engaged or mastered.
  • To offer suggestions on how to minimize unnecessary interruptions in your table service.

When you feel awkward or you are taken out of your comfort zone, does it affect your table discussion or thought process? Most people would reply yes. Before you conduct or participate in a meeting over a meal in a formal setting (here or abroad), there are some “must knows” that will help you navigate. To begin, there are five styles of dining and service. The savvy professional knows and can handle each with ease.

When the meeting is in a formal environment, this chapter will help you navigate flawlessly so that you can focus on the goal of the meeting, enjoy a wonderful meal, and develop relationships. 

Sub-chapters: Dining Etiquette Courtesies and Clarifications | Exude Exquisite Table Manners | Managing Mishaps and “What If” Moments | A Potpourri of Dining Annoyances | Tips for Handling Problematic Foods | Review

3 Manners

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To provide an overview of dining courtesies. How you treat people is a strong indicator of your people skills and your sensitivity to the enjoyment and needs of other diners.
  • To address basic table etiquette and manners to guide you through those “what to do when” moments. Demonstrating your confidence and ease with dining decorum will position you as a confident and classy diner.
  • To offer sound advice for how to cover “what if” moments.  Mishaps and embarrassing moments invariably occur, no matter how thorough the planning. How you handle them is the key to a successful turnaround.

The lack of table manners sends a message of disregard and cluelessness to one’s dining peers or clients. Don’t let that be you! Good table manners are a strong indicator of your people skills and your sensitivity to the enjoyment and needs of others. Let that be you!

This chapter covers numerous types of mishaps or dilemmas and guides you in handling awkward or challenging moments as you demonstrate courteous table manners. You name it, it is covered! See if you recognize yourself! 

Sub-chapters: Introducing the Restaurant Staff | Working with the Staff | Behind the Scenes Service Protocol | Signature Service and Private Clubs | Tipping and Gratuities | Review

4 Staff

The objectives of this chapter are

  • To understand differences between public and private eating establishments;
  • To distinguish how restaurants adjust service based on the type of establishment and the number of courses served.
  • To understand the role and responsibilities of the restaurant staff.
  • To explain similarities and differences in tipping protocol and how to use tipping to your advantage.

It’s to your advantage to know how to effectively work with the restaurant. You accomplish this by knowing every aspect of the service and meal timing. This alone puts you in the powerful position of letting your dining guest know what to expect when. Building a strong relationship with a restaurant starts with being respectful of the staff and understanding restaurant protocols.

This chapter is based on established behind-the-scenes service protocols and serves as a wonderful training guide for a restaurant’s staff. 

Sub-chapters: Securing the Appointment, Communicating the Purpose and When to Meet | Selecting the Venue and Handling the Logistics | Handling Reservations, Confirmations, and Cancellations | Strategic Seating Arrangements | Food and Its Many Customs and Restrictions | Menu Selection, Services and Meal Pace | Tackling the “Pay the Check” Dilemma | Review

5 MenuCheck

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To familiarize you with all the crucial details, from first making the appointment to mastering the business meal protocol.
  • To explain how to communicate your purpose when securing the appointment.
  • To demonstrate how to select a dining venue that is appropriate to you goal.
  • To teach you how to handle reservations, confirmations, and cancellations flawlessly.
  • To inform you on the strategies of seating arrangements, courtesies toward guests of honor, and guidelines for paying for the meal.

Have you ever been handed a corporate card and told: “Here, take our client out to lunch while we put the final touches on the proposal?” Oftentimes there is no discussion as to the degree of formality, and no other instruction has been given to boost your comfort level when meeting the expectations of your superiors and guests. Remove potential pitfalls by knowing every phase of entertaining from making arrangements and meal pace to paying the check.

Every possible phase of arranging or attending a business meal (which includes all the “what ifs”) is covered in detail in this chapter. 

Chapter 6:  “LET’S DO LUNCH”
Sub-chapters: Bonding Over a Meal | Selling Yourself at the Interview Meal | The True Secret Behind Power Dining | Review

6 Lunch

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To demonstrate how building relationships from the moment of arrival, through the entire dinner conversation, and selling yourself properly will move you toward your goal, whether it be getting hired or securing a major deal.
  • To provide an introduction to the hidden or unwritten rules that influence any and every business meal decision.
  • To reveal the secrets of power dining: it’s all about establishing your clout and influence, but there are rules to follow, manners to display, protocol to honor, and most of all, game plans.

How often have you heard someone say, “Let’s do lunch,” and then nothing happened? It is a popular phrase, but it only has value when you follow through. We all mean well at the onset; then “busy-ness” takes over and the lunch initiative is forgotten. Perhaps you have been invited to a “power lunch,” but then were not quite sure what makes it so different, so important. Or, have you had the experience of being scheduled for an interview meal but did not realize how much your table manners and “social-ability” were part of the interview process?

This chapter will take you from setting up the appointment to bonding and building trust, from the start of the meal to the finish, whether it is a casual lunch, interview meal, or status dining. 


Sub-chapters: Navigating Food Courts, Gourmet Cafes, and Buffets | Eating on the Run and At the Office | Tips for Celebration Banquets | Review

7 FoodCourt

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To identify the various types of fast-food options and how to not abuse their usage.
  • To offer steps on how to navigate a buffet line, including formal buffets.
  • To offer steps on how to avoid the pitfalls of “grab-and-go” eating when multitasking requires eating to accommodate one’s work.
  • To provide a briefing on proper behavior, courtesies, and personal responsibilities for special occasion banquets.

Coffee shops and fast-food eateries present a wonderful and inexpensive way to have brief meetings; however, they are also places of business. By using these cafés or eateries for meetings and not ordering, you risk sending a self-serving message that you would not hesitate to abuse a privilege. Is this the message you want to send? Always order something when you invite someone to meet you at an eatery! Celebration banquets are a privilege! If you make a reservation to attend a celebration banquet, show up! Do not be a no show because you took that opportunity to plan another activity. It sends a message of disregard.

This chapter will offer tips for food courts and corporate cafeterias to the respecting the protocols of celebration banquets. 

Sub-chapters: Wine Smarts | Food Pairings | Salute … Cheers? Here’s to You | Review

8 Toasting

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To emphasize the responsibilities associated with drinking alcohol.
  • To explain the role of food pairings in alcoholic and nonalcoholic selections.
  • To raise your comfort level when selecting wine, participating in wine tasting rituals, and purchasing wine as a gift.
  • To teach you all the elements of the time-honored ritual of toasting, and the special element of ceremony and recognition it adds to a business meal.

We drink beer; we sip wine. It can be mind-boggling to try to understand all the variations of wine and beer. Furthermore, while some wines are identified by region, others are identified by producer and by grape. Depending on the spice level of your food, sometimes beer makes the better pairing. Then there is the toasting protocol, and how to give a toast speech.  It’s all about positioning and timing!

This chapter will take you from beverage (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and food pairings to toasting with class and finesse. 

Sub-chapters: Introduction to Ethnic Dining: Chinese | Introduction to Ethnic Dining: East Indian | Introduction to Ethnic Dining: Mexican | Review

9 Ethnic

The objectives of this chapter are …

  • To provide an understanding of and increase your sensitivity to the cultural differences encountered in ethnic dining.
  • To increase your awareness of the need to experience ethnic dining locally before entertaining a guest or client from another culture.
  • To offer insights into a sampling of ethnic experiences, in particular Chinese, East Indian, and Mexican.

Do ethnic restaurants sometimes make you feel like you need a translator or an interpreter? You are trying very hard to look savvy and order confidently, but you have no idea what to order, what to recommend, or even what you just ordered! Sound familiar? Plus, we are now offered experiences with fusion cuisines. It gets even more complicated.

This chapter shares tips for the three most popular ethnic restaurantsChinese, East Indian, and Mexican to educate, create comfort, and enjoyment. 

Sub-chapters: Menu and Restaurant Language | Wine and Cordial Flavor Profile

If you are not proficient in English, French, Spanish, and Italian, you may be in trouble when trying to understand the terminology of sophisticated menus. Furthermore, the influx of ethnic restaurants has made comprehending these menus even more important. And then there is the wine list and the cordial cart!

The main objective of this section is to help you get beyond menu phobias. A glossary of over 300 descriptions for food and wine are outlined in this chapter. This is a “must have” dining prep guide and serves as a great “cheat sheet” when dining out of your league or comfort level.


Planning and enjoying a successful meal-related meeting requires attention to every detail from the initial reservation and  decorum to paying the check and follow-up. Make very business meal meeting flawless and productive whether you are the host or guest.