In nearly every transaction I experience, I can pick out certain tips to share with my audiences. I want to share the importance of the following piece of advice regarding business lunches, breakfasts, dinners…even happy hours:
Whoever does the inviting should pick up the check!
People always ask me about who should pick up the check when they are out with clients or vendors, so here it is again – tip #1 – Whoever does the inviting should pay.
This past week I was invited to meet with a speaker who said she wanted to meet me face-to-face, get to know me, say hi, etc. That is her invitation to me to meet her. She did the inviting.
This was a professional speaker who wants to work with the bureau. She had originally reached out to me about a year ago. I’m always open to meeting speakers, especially those who can speak on a specific topic that I don’t already have covered at least three-deep. She told me at that time that her schedule was extremely busy already….but she wouldn’t mind having a bit more work.
I speak on the importance of having a pleasing tone of voice. Whenever I’ve communicated with this gal, whether by phone or e-mail, there is a biting edge to her tone. She’s probably not aware of it – but it’s bad. I’m not sure if it’s one-upmanship, defensiveness, arrogance or something else. Her tone of voice is not friendly; in fact – at times – her tone practically contradicts her words. Tip # 2 – Be sure when you are speaking to someone that you regard your tone of voice… as the wrong tone can send the wrong message!
I don’t always have time to meet people unless we have immediate business at hand. In fact, I usually consider a luncheon a consultation and so, when someone invites me to lunch I tell them that my fee for that is $500 – and for that they can pick my brain all they want. But I didn’t get the feeling that this woman wanted to pick my brain – although I was fairly certain she wanted something, even if it was just to get to know me and see if I could book her as a speaker.
I was going to be in town later that day so I agreed. I was up front when I said, “If we can get in to a small restaurant in the mall without a mad wait….that would be fine. Otherwise, we could just grab a coffee together.” I also told her that I would be coming from an appointment so that the time would have to be approximate. Tip # 3 – It’s important to never be late for a meeting however, in this case, I already had a schedule and I was very upfront about my meeting. I shared that I would have no control over when I could get to the mall. (And what woman can’t entertain herself at a mall for a half-hour?!)
My appointment ran late, so by the time I got to the mall, this gal had been able to get us a table. So we met over salads. She never did ask me for anything specific, but she did manage to share that she is doing “fabulously well.” From the information she shared, she must be raking in well over $10K a month for four hours of work maintaining a membership website. How wonderful for her! With all that money, she should be able to spring for our meager lunch, one would think. Remember Tip #1? She did the inviting, so the check was her responsibility.
When the check came (and it was JUST $23.00), I took out my wallet and she took out hers. So I said, “Thirty with tip, so $15 each?” She threw in a $20 and I put in $15 so she could have the $5 back. Even though it was her responsibility to pick up the check, I was not going to stick her with my lunch check. As mother always said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Tip # 4 – I always recommend that when the check comes, it’s best to at least OFFER to get it…or to chip in…even if you expect that you are the guest. I have never gone “Dutch” with someone when they have invited me to lunch unless I’m out with friends. To invite someone out and then stick them with the check will most likely leave them feeling that their host had taken advantage of them.
We both wanted coffee and the machine at the restaurant was broken, so we walked to the e-bar at Nordstrom’s. She stepped right up and ordered her coffee and paid for it. She never offered to buy me a cup of coffee. This was after telling me how INCREDIBLY successful she is. Is it possible that she wasn’t being honest – and she really couldn’t afford to pay for a cup of coffee? And if she really IS that successful, then she is cheap at best. Tip #5 – Never act in any manner that could be perceived as cheap.
This is a gal who wants to work with me. She did NOTHING to warm my heart, build her case or even establish a nice working relationship. She was not a sympathetic character who impressed me with how hard she is trying to succeed or even as a dynamic speaker who came across as polished and professional. She boasted about her reputation and how well-known she is becoming. I had never heard of her before she contacted me a year ago.
Needless to say, I was not impressed. I would not ever recommend her for a speaking engagement; what if she behaved this way in front of one of our clients?! I admire people who are gracious and kind, generous by nature, who exhibit class and who are fun to be with.
One of the most consistent complaints I hear with regard to business lunches come from people who were invited to lunch and then got stuck with the check. It’s a lousy thing to do to anyone…even if you think they can better afford the meal than you. And it leaves a LONG LASTING impression! This woman, if I were to believe everything she told me, doesn’t need my help. Now that I’ve had a chance to meet her, we can each go our separate ways.