Are business lunches making a comeback? Absolutely. In the post-pandemic landscape, professionals across industries are once again embracing the value of face-to-face meetings over a meal. This article uncovers why and how business lunches are back, exploring their benefits, the new etiquette shaped by recent changes, and practical tips for making the most of these networking opportunities.. Business lunches also play a crucial role in building a strong professional network.

Key Takeaways

  • Business lunches are witnessing a resurgence. They offer pivotal networking opportunities and career advancement while adapting to new norms, such as safe health practices and integrating technology for in-person and virtual engagements.
  • Business lunches have benefits that include strengthening professional relationships, enhancing team collaboration, boosting employee morale, and reinforcing their role as an integral part of a thriving professional environment.
  • A successful business lunch requires proper etiquette, such as punctuality and mastering table manners, choosing the right venue, accommodating dietary preferences, and setting a clear agenda to guide productive discussions.

The Return of Business Lunches

For many professionals, professional networking is a cornerstone of their career, often in a business lunch’s relaxed, informal setting. In recent years, we’ve seen a significant upswing in business lunches, highlighting their crucial role in building relationships and conducting business.

A business meal requires proper etiquette and guidelines to ensure a successful meeting. It’s important to be clear on who pays for the meal, make a good first impression, avoid specific topics, and be prepared for the conversation. Business lunches are a type of networking event that can bolster career prospects and create stronger industry connections during a job search.

Adapting to New Norms

The return of business lunches signifies more than just a return to old habits – it shows adaptation to new standards. Health guidelines have prompted a shift in how we conduct these lunches, with restaurants introducing contactless payments, physical distancing, and safe food management practices to ensure a safe environment.

The increased demand for takeout and delivery has led to menu revamps, which focus on dishes that maintain their quality off-site.

Building business relationships. Two businessmen shaking hands.
Building business relationships.

Return to Normalcy and Corporate Culture

As businesses adapt to post-pandemic realities, the resurgence of business lunches marks a significant step towards restoring traditional corporate culture. We’re witnessing a return to pre-COVID-19 norms where in-person interactions are pivotal in building and maintaining professional relationships. This shift is not just about the meals; it’s a broader move towards reinvigorating the dynamics of corporate culture that were put on hold.

  • Reconnecting: Rekindling relationships that have been strained or neglected.
  • Rebuilding Trust: Face-to-face meetings foster a more profound sense of trust and understanding.
  • Reaffirming Values: Demonstrating a commitment to professional etiquette and personal engagement.

These elements are crucial in nurturing an environment where collaboration and camaraderie flourish, signalling a return to a vibrant, interactive corporate world.

The Role of Technology

In addition to health and safety measures, technology plays a significant role in reshaping the business lunch landscape. Virtual collaboration tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and social media platforms have become pivotal in engaging participants in virtual business lunches.

Restaurants also utilize digital technologies to streamline operations, maintain safety standards, and adapt to consumer demands. Thanks to the power of technology, the traditional business lunch has been transformed into a blend of in-person and virtual experiences.

Business people having business lunch in restaurant, three men and two women seated at the table laughing together
Business people having business lunch in a restaurant

Benefits of Business Lunches

Business lunches’ comeback showcases their numerous benefits far beyond being a mere trend. Business lunches facilitate networking, allowing us to foster new professional relationships and expand our networks. They provide a platform for exchanging information on challenges, experiences, and goals, giving us unique insights and perspectives. They also contribute to career progression through access to support, job opportunities, and valuable career advice.

Business lunches combine the advantages of strengthened professional connections within a robust professional network, insightful knowledge sharing with business partners, and vital support mechanisms that enhance career development and foster career growth.

Strengthening Professional Relationships

Strengthening professional relationships stands as a critical benefit of business lunches. These lunches establish connections across various departments, fostering an interdepartmental sense of teamwork. The informal setting encourages deeper conversations, strengthening existing connections and paving the way for building new ones.

When breaking bread, trust and rapport among colleagues are fostered, laying the foundation for increased future collaboration. When management and employees share meals, it promotes transparent communication, enhancing mutual understanding and team dynamics.

Enhancing Collaboration

Another significant role that business lunches play is enhancing collaboration. Eating together as a team improves team performance and team dynamics. Business lunches unite employees from different departments, nurturing social bonds and improving interdepartmental communication.

Moreover, team lunches can help employees decompress from work, reduce workplace stress, and increase motivation and productivity levels.

Boosting Employee Morale

In addition to fostering networking and collaboration, business lunches also help to lift employee morale. Encouraging employees to eat meals together creates a sense of community and improved workplace culture. Social connections fostered over shared meals can strengthen professional bonds and improve workplace morale.

Offering convenience and time-saving meal options creates a comfortable environment, boosting employee morale. Providing meals onsite can reduce the financial strain for employees and contribute to a more enjoyable work environment, further boosting morale.

Essential Proper Business Lunch Etiquette Tips

Business professionals dressed in formal attire at a lunch
Business professionals dressed in formal attire at lunch

Along with their clear benefits, understanding the etiquette of business lunches is also crucial. Proper business lunch etiquette is essential for demonstrating professionalism and achieving success in social business settings. This includes:

  • Being punctual
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Offering a firm handshake
  • Managing the conversation appropriately.

We must also remember the ‘BMW’ (bread, meal, water) method to navigate dining etiquette effectively.

Business People Lunch Celebration Together Corporate Concept
Business People Lunch Together

Dressing Appropriately

Appropriate dressing is part of business lunch etiquette. This involves considering the venue, the host’s hints about attire, and the purpose of the meeting. For women, a dress under a blazer provides a professional yet personalized look, while men should opt for collared shirts like dress shirts or polos.

If the dress code is unclear, it’s advisable to ask the host for guidance or suggest your planned attire and request confirmation.

Mastering Table Manners

Another fundamental aspect of business lunch etiquette is mastering table manners. This includes using the BMW method to remember the bread plate, meal plate, and water glass placement.

It’s also vital to choose dishes that are neat and easy to consume with utensils to maintain professional decorum at the table.

Steering Conversations

Directing conversations effectively is an essential part of business lunch etiquette. Here are some tips to help you navigate the conversation smoothly:

  1. Start with light talk about neutral topics, such as the weather or current events.
  2. Transition into business discussions after everyone has ordered and is settled.
  3. Remain flexible to allow for natural conversations to flow.
  4. Ensure that all necessary topics on the agenda are covered.

By following these tips, you can have productive and enjoyable business conversations during lunch.

It’s also crucial to avoid polarizing topics such as politics or religion to maintain a beneficial dialogue.

Planning a Successful Business Lunch

A well-prepared table setting for a business lunch
A well-prepared table setting for a business lunch

Now that we’ve explored the benefits and etiquette of business lunches let’s discuss how to organize a successful one. This involves rehearsing for the lunch, arriving early, and ensuring the bill is handled discreetly.

Choosing the Right Venue

Selecting an appropriate venue plays a crucial role in planning a business lunch. The venue should be conveniently located, with adequate parking options. The venue’s ambiance, including noise level, lighting, and decor, should be conducive to the type of business meeting, whether formal or casual.

The menu should provide filling and reasonably priced options that cater to specific dietary requirements to ensure a pleasant meal for all participants.

Accommodating Dietary Preferences

Another essential element in planning a successful business lunch is accommodating dietary preferences. Understanding dietary preferences, including restrictions based on health, religion, or personal choice, is crucial for accommodating the needs of all guests and ensuring their satisfaction.

Early planning and confirming attendees’ dietary restrictions allow effective venue collaboration to make necessary meal arrangements.

Setting an Agenda

It’s also vital to set an agenda for the business lunch. This involves creating a concise agenda with a one to two-sentence rundown of the meeting’s purpose to guide the conversation.

Depending on the flow of the meeting, start with business discussions before moving on to more casual socializing after the food arrives.

Virtual Business Lunches: Adapting to the New Normal

Participants engaging in a virtual business lunch
Participants engaging in a virtual business lunch

Despite the resurgence of traditional, in-person business lunches, the rise of virtual and networking events remains significant. These have become a staple in the professional world, offering flexibility and continuity in networking and business communications. Virtual networking events, in particular, play a crucial role in establishing a strong professional network by taking the pressure off the first networking experience and allowing for a well-planned approach.

Although initially adopted out of necessity during the pandemic, virtual business lunches have remained popular due to their convenience and lower cost.

Preparing for a Virtual Business Lunch

Preparation for a virtual business lunch requires different considerations than an in-person event. This includes selecting a group video chat software, sending meeting invitations, and arranging food delivery.

Engaging Participants

Although engaging participants in a virtual business lunch might be challenging, it’s not impossible. Icebreaker games, live polling, and interactive activities can all help to engage participants and create a sense of camaraderie.

Networking Tips for Business Lunches

After exploring business lunches’ nuances, let’s focus on networking tips. These include making an excellent first impression, building stronger connections, and following up after the event.

Building Rapport

Rapport building stands as a vital component of networking skills for building connections. This involves engaging attentively, asking open-ended questions, and sharing relevant personal stories.

Avoiding electronic devices during the meal shows that you are fully present and considerate of your dining companions, contributing to building rapport.

Following up After the Event

It’s crucial to follow up after a business lunch. This should be done promptly, professionally, and ideally within 24 hours of the event to ensure the person remembers you and the event’s conversation. Here are some ways to follow up:

  • Connect on LinkedIn for ongoing interactions
  • Offer assistance
  • Suggest further meetings
  • Send a unique follow-up, such as a ‘Thank You’ note with a restaurant card to strengthen professional relationships.

In the ever-changing world of business lunches, grasping regional preferences and trends is essential. Whether it’s adapting to the bustling lunch scenes of New York or the growing demand in Seattle, being informed helps you leverage these opportunities for professional growth and networking.

New YorkIncreasingPeak interest in “business lunch” searches
ChicagoGainingWeekday noon diners rise
SeattleGrowingNotable uptick in seated diners
Trends and Regional Highlights

Top Destinations for Business Lunches

Selecting an ideal venue can significantly improve the experience and results of business lunches. Choosing a location that offers excellent cuisine and provides an atmosphere conducive to productive discussions is vital. Here are a few top destinations for business lunches in key cities, ensuring you make an informed choice for your next meeting.

CityRestaurantNotable Feature
ChicagoThe Purple PigInnovative Mediterranean
New YorkBalthazarFrench Brasserie
San FranciscoBoulevardWaterfront Views
TorontoCanoeSkyline Views
LondonFrenchieModern European Cuisine
Top Destinations for Business Lunches


Business lunches have always been a cornerstone of business culture, and their resurgence highlights their continued relevance. They provide a platform for networking, building relationships, and fostering collaboration. The etiquette surrounding them is crucial, as are the considerations for planning a successful business lunch. Whether in-person or virtual, these lunches adapt to new norms and leverage technology to remain integral to our professional lives. So, the next time you plan a business lunch, remember the information shared here and make the most of the opportunity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are business lunches?

Business lunches are used to build relationships, discuss business matters, celebrate achievements, or provide training. They serve different purposes depending on the context.

Is it rude to not eat at a business lunch?

Yes, it is considered rude to not eat at a business lunch as it can make the other person uncomfortable, especially in business.

What role does technology play in business lunches?

Technology is crucial in enhancing the business lunch experience, from virtual collaboration tools to digital menus and reservation systems, making the whole experience more efficient and seamless.

How can business lunches boost employee morale?

Business lunches can boost employee morale by fostering a sense of community, improving workplace culture, and increasing job satisfaction. This ultimately leads to a more positive and engaged workforce.

What are some networking tips for business lunches?

Remember to build rapport, follow up after the event, and focus on shared interests during business lunches to maximize networking opportunities. These tips can help you make meaningful connections and expand your professional network.

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Business lunches’ comeback showcases their numerous benefits far beyond being a mere trend. Business lunches facilitate networking, allowing us to foster new professional relationships and expand our networks. They provide a platform for exchanging information on challenges, experiences, and goals, giving us unique insights and perspectives.
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