Dining Etiquette: 10 Things to Know About Business Lunches

dining etiquetteHot on the heels of our discussion about how not to gain weight over the summer recruiting season, we thought we’d round up some of the readers’ top tips on dining etiquette, collected from our last discussion on the topic. Ladies, what is your top tip for dining etiquette? What etiquette mistakes do you see interns and summer associates making that you wish you could correct, and what mistakes did you make? 

  1. Don’t be the odd one out. To prevent awkward situations, e.g., ending up as the only person eating an appetizer while everyone waits for you to finish so they can have their entrees, feel free to ask your colleagues if they’re planning on ordering an app or starting with a main course. If they don’t order drinks, don’t order a drink. And, although it probably goes without saying, don’t make a habit of choosing the most expensive thing on the menu.
  2. Choose wisely. This classic advice is worth sharing: Don’t order something that’s hard to eat and/or likely to be messy.
  3. Avoid appearing “high-maintenance.” When you order, don’t ask too many questions of the server (remember that waitress scene in “When Harry Met Sally“?), and don’t make a zillion modifications to your meal.
  4. Don’t make a big deal about special dietary requirements. Meaning: a few questions or exclusions are fine — a 15 minute interrogation on different menu options isn’t. Check out our posts on eating gluten-free or being the only vegetarian at a business lunch where there’s nothing you can eat for more guidance. If you need to make a game plan, consider calling the restaurant ahead of time with your questions (so that you don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining your requirements and ordering your food).

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Finding and Joining Professional Organizations

Finding and Joining the Right Professional Organizations | CorporetteHow do you find out about professional organizations that could be a good fit for you and your goals? How do you decide which organizations to join, whether for networking in your niche, business development/new clients, or just better opportunities? Ladies, what are your best tips for finding worthwhile professional organizations? 

Psst: We’ve also looked at volunteering and joining a nonprofit board.

Many readers offered their advice when we last discussed professional organizations, and we’re including their best suggestions in our list of tips:

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10 Ways to Make Time for Friends When You Work a Lot

How to Make Time for Friends When You Work a Lot | CorporetteIt’s tough to find enough time for friends if you have a demanding job — when you have a really busy schedule, making sure you socialize and maintain relationships requires some creative problem-solving and planning. While we’ve discussed how to fit in basic things like planning meals and cooking, doing household chores, scheduling appointments, and working out, we haven’t talked about how to fit a social calendar into a busy life in a while. Let’s chat about it today!

We’ve rounded up several suggestions from Corporette readers on making time for friends when your schedule is tight:

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How to Get on a Board

How to Get on a Board | CorporetteJoining a nonprofit board allows you to lend a hand for a good cause, build your professional network, develop your skills, and even advance your career. But what is the best way to get on a board — and how should you evaluate board membership opportunities to determine whether a particular organization is the right one for you?

We’ve previously talked about making friends and networkingstrategic volunteering, joining professional organizations, and charitable giving, but we haven’t talked about how to get on a board.

During conversations about board membership in our comment sections, two Corporette readers explained how rewarding they found their experiences:

The year-long process of putting myself out there [to join a board], figuring out what I care about, what my skills are, what organizations are doing good work… it was so valuable. It was great to push myself like that, and I think it will have huge benefits for me down the road, both in terms of career and personal growth. —Reader S

Lawyers (we’ve had a few since I’ve been on the board) are always welcome. It has been a great experience. … You might reach out to friends / contacts / coworkers whose volunteer work sounds interesting to you and explain you’re looking to become involved in X field, and ask if they know of any upcoming opportunities or have any suggestions for people to contact. —Reader A

If you’d like to get on a board, here are a few tips:

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Tales from the Wallet: Black Tie on a Budget

Black Tie on a Budget | CorporetteHow do you dress for a work-related black tie — on a budget? Whether you have a formal holiday office party coming up, or you’ve been invited to a charity black tie on behalf of work, you now probably have two primary questions: a) how to dress in a formal dress and still maintain a professional demeanor, and b) how to do it without breaking the bank.  We’ve talked about what not to wear to a black-tie event for work before, as well as how to do black tie on a budget, but not for a while, so I thought we’d discuss. (We also recently did a style guide for the more low-key, weeknight holiday office party.  Ladies, what are your best tips for doing black tie on a budget?  Any amazing scores to share?

Pictured: dress, earrings, clutch, shoes

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Sexual Harassment at Work

Sexual Harassment at Work | CorporetteWOW.  Staci Zaretsky over at Above the Law has collected some amazing sexual harassment at work stories from women lawyers, and the collection is too… revolting, I guess?…  to not discuss over here. (My first reaction to the post was of a mental roundhouse kick, but the fight scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith will have to do to illustrate the post.) What stories do you care to share, ladies? Here’s one story of the several they share:

I wore dark purple suede heels to court. Opposing counsel asked, “Where are you dancing now?” in open court. Later that morning, he came to my office with cash in his mouth.

PURPLE HEELS, LADIES. Purple heels. For my $.02, I remember recognizing that people were being inappropriate around me in my legal eagle days, also, I suppose — older male lawyers I worked with would occasionally make negative comments about some of the secretaries based on how they dressed (usually implying something regarding clubbing), and one of the partners I worked with said something once about my “long, flowing hair,” like I was a princess or something. (I was growing it out for my wedding!)  But mostly I remember there being an invisible thin line that seemed to be present in every interaction I had — that was definitely not there for my male coworkers, who were free to drink, joke, have meals, and share personal stories with partners.  Vivia Chen at the Careerist had an interesting post a year or two ago where she scoffed at the perception that older male lawyers couldn’t take female associates out for a meal, and in response got a ton of emails from older male readers saying YES, the fear of being accused of sexual harassment absolutely did limit their interactions with younger female attorneys. In some ways that’s worse, because sponsorship and mentorship are essential to move up the career ladder.

Above the Law is suggesting women lawyers band together to speak up and say something — do you know who you would speak to in your workplace if something came up? (Or, in the above example where it was opposing counsel — do you know who would you speak to regarding that kind of behavior?) Do you feel like there would be retribution — or at least judgement, such as “she can’t take a joke” — for speaking up?) How do you think workplaces should walk the line between discouraging sexist behavior and encouraging senior workers to sponsor more junior workers, regardless of gender?

Psst: we’ve also talked about what to do when a client hits on you, how to discourage a flirtatious boss, how to deal with sexist coworkers, and how to network with older men