It’s time for a business lunch–in English.
You probably enjoy these in your native language. But are you doing and saying the right thing when you have a business lunch in English? And are you feeling like your usual, confident self?
Let me share something with you. It’s something that I know because I’m originally from the States.
Business lunches are important to English speakers–and to you if you’re doing business in an international environment.
Your business lunch is a chance to meet in a different setting than just ‘the office.’ You have your business contact’s undivided attention. And you get to do them a favor too. A good business lunch can build rapport and move your business forward.
In short, business lunches are so important, they’re worth being ready for!
Today you’ll learn expressions to help you make sure your next business lunch in English is a success!
Read on and learn key expressions (and a few soft skills) so that you can easily:
- build rapport with small talk,
- transition to business topics
- and close your business lunch on a positive note.
1. Your Successful Business Lunch in English: Don’t forget the small talk!
Yes, a business lunch has a purpose and you probably know what you came to discuss with your business contact.
But as you probably already know, small talk is very important in English-speaking cultures–and it’s expected at business lunches!
It’s something you can absolutely do–if you know how.
Let’s get started.
First, what NOT to talk about during small talk in English:
My clients often ask me what topics to avoid–and that’s a good idea.
There are definitely topics you won’t discuss in small talk–especially at a business lunch!
The big topics NOT to discuss are:
- romantic relationships.
Do this instead: start with the right mindset.
The idea of small talk is to build rapport and find common ground. You want to show that you are interested in your business contact as a person.
Small talk should be comfortable for everyone.
You want a lively conversation–that’s not too personal! Ok, so how do you do that?
Also check out my lesson: How to make small talk.
2. Your Successful Business Lunch: Expressions and questions for starting small talk.
Here are some questions you can ask to start up small talk at your business lunch.
You could learn a few of these to make sure that you’ve got something to say in any situation!
Small talk: the basics.
Ok, we’ve all heard about asking about the weather. And yes, we do it all the time!
Here’s an easy phrase to learn whether it’s sunny, rainy or snowing:
“Can you believe the weather we’re having?”
It’s also common to ask if someone saw a recent match or sporting competition, especially if it’s a big event–like the Super Bowl.
“Did you catch the game yesterday?”
But there are other things you can ask about. And having more ideas will help you make sure you have more lively conversations.
3. Your Successful Business Lunch: Show interest in your business contacts with great questions.
One great way of deepening your small talk and building rapport is to show interest in your conversation partner. You can do this without going too far from professional topics by asking about his or her career path.
Ask about your business contact’s career path:
You could try asking about companies they’ve worked for in the past for example:
“Have you always worked at Supercorp?”
Or you could ask if they’ve always been in the same field.
You could say:
“Have you always been in project management?”
You may discover you have something in common!
Ask about your business contact’s hobbies and interests:
Hobbies can be an interesting topic as well, you can avoid sounding too personal by offering some information about yourself first.
Instead of saying “What are your hobbies?” or “What do you like to do in your free time?”
You could say something like:
“Last week, the weather was so great, I just had to go for a hike! Do you do any outdoor sports?”
Ask a follow-up question to keep the conversation going.
During small talk, you may discover an interest your business contact has.
If you do, ask follow-up questions to show you’re interested in his or her life.
If they tell you they don’t like hiking but they had a great CrossFit session recently, you could ask them when they usually work out. Or if it helps them stay focused…Small talk is about asking questions and showing interest!
4. Your Successful Business Lunch: How to transition to business topics.
As important as it is to make small talk, you’ll also need to get down to business.
In a normal meeting, you might simply say:
“Shall we get down to business?”
But in a business lunch, that might feel a little direct.
You can also use business-related questions to move the conversation towards business.
For example, you could ask about how your client’s business is going:
“How have things been for you at Supercorp this last quarter?”
Or you could ask what’s new at their company:
“What is your team working on these days?”
Or if you know their company is working on some new developments, you could ask about that. For example:
“How is your new project going?”
“How have you enjoyed working with the new team since the merger?”
And if your business contact is starting to ask business-related questions–that can also be a cue that it’s time to get down to business.
Also check out my lesson: Conversation secrets for business success.
5. Your Successful Business Lunch: Expressions for closing on a positive note.
Eventually, your business lunch will come to an end. This will usually happen when someone brings you the check–or when you ask for it.
Remember that when you invite someone to a business lunch, you should pay the bill.
The end of your conversation is also a great time to thank your business contact. You could say something like:
“Thank you for meeting me for lunch today. It was a pleasure.”
And you could also suggest staying in contact.
Depending on your situation you could say something like:
“I’ll be in touch by email with the details we discussed.”
“Would you like me to send you the proposal?”
“Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions.”
Also check out my lesson: How to increase your English fluency
Take the next step: Improve your English in the comments
The best way to become more confident using Business English is to practice!
Here’s your Confidence Challenge for this week:
1. Tell us in the comments if you often have business lunches in English.
2. Share one small talk question you could ask at your next lunch.
If you learned something from this lesson, please share it with your coworkers & friends. You can send your message to them in English for more practice!
Become more fluent & comfortable in conversations
If you would like to take the next step with me, discover my Faster Fluency Conversation Club Membership Program!
It helps you become more confident speaking in conversations, and get a lot more vocabulary on many different topics! And it’s a fabulous community of “English buddies” from around the world!
TIP: Use the code FFCC40 to save -40% off your 1st month of membership!
Can’t wait to see you in the Club,
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