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The Difference Between Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Business Meetings

  • By Judith Bowman
  • |
  • June 12, 2018

In todays’ fast-paced, high-technologically, driven, global world where multi-tasking is the norm, time is the most precious commodity. Therefore, when someone accepts your invitation to “lunch” they are choosing to invest their valuable personal time with you; consider this a great compliment! And remember, no one invites you to lunch because they think you look hungry and need to be fed! (respectfully).

Breakfast, lunch and dinner, in this order, represent the value placed on you and this (potential) relationship.

Business Breakfast

While the “Power Breakfast” remains a mainstay at stand-by’s such as The Bristol, Four Seasons and The Ritz, the debut of the Panera’s and Starbucks of the world evolved business breakfasts, as they offer a quick fix and complement our ever-evolving “on-demand” culture when the purpose is to get in, get (it) done, and get out.

“Coffee” is less personal and dominates in Europe. “Coffee is the transactional lubricant of business in Europe,” according to Matt Schiffman, (former) President, Global, Legg Mason.

And John Przbylski, Director and Partner, Pathstone Federal Street, says “I tend to meet for coffee when there is less of a connection.”

Business Lunch

Shannon McQuarry, Membership Director, The Boston College, reports that while their business breakfasts have declined, the business lunch is more robust than ever with all 30 tables filled to capacity, turning over twice during each lunch.

“Lunch” is more personal, implies more of a commitment and is more prevalent among those in sales. The business lunch is also a great networking opportunity.

The business lunch provides an invaluable opportunity to get to know the other person outside the office setting and further evaluate if others want to engage in (future) business dealings with you.

Lunch holds the power to (re)-ignite and positively inflame or extinguish a potential interpersonal relationship. Your conduct, behavior and manners are all on the table (pun intended) – and always being evaluated, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Business Dinner

Although we may live in a world where it appears a more casual business environment beckons including casual business attire and even casual dining, make no mistake, the “Business Dinner” is more intimate, as you are taking guests away from precious family time or alone time. And when business entertaining is on the menu, so to speak, the full three or four course meal, replete with fine wines and superior service is implied.

Therefore, savvy business hosts are prepared in every aspect of gracious business dining, suggesting they are similarly prepared, well-versed and give like time and attention to details pertaining to business matters.


To varying degrees, the business breakfast/lunch/dinner is a powerful vehicle providing the opportunity to show you as an individual who is prepared, detailed, thoughtful, respectful and trust-worthy in an environment where business relationships are kindled and future business is ignited.

Therefore, while the option to get in, get (it) done, and get out may be more efficient, not investing the proper effort in business meals may be a huge missed opportunity.

Are you just getting by or are you getting better? Get started today!

Author Bio

Judith Bowman founded Protocol Consultants International in 1993 and has prospered to become an established Business Protocol expert, educator, corporate speaker, and renowned authority in the field of Professional Presence, Dining Savvy, International Protocol Awareness, and personal and professional development. Ms. Bowman also provides Protocol Certification. She is a graduate of Boston College and has pursued studies in Effective Business Communication at Harvard University. Ms. Bowman speaks to critical interpersonal communication skills and shares specific nuances advantageous to exemplary conduct in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive global work environment. She showcases everyday business situations and shows professionals how to leverage these as opportunities to demonstrate respect while earning respect - while showing you know “the difference” while making a difference to stand apart and outclass the competition! Ms. Bowman has authored two business protocol books: “Don’t Take the Last Donut…” (Career Press) presently sold in 16 countries, translated in 14 languages, and her new book, “How to Stand Apart @ Work …” She has authored a weekly Everyday Etiquette column syndicated throughout New England for ten years by the Pulitzer Prize winning Eagle Tribune Publishing Company. Internationally, she authored a Business Protocol column for the prestigious Noblesse Magazine, China. She presently writes a weekly Business Protocol column for Boston Herald newspapers and has a coordinating weekly radio segment, “A Protocol Moment” on Herald Radio. She also writes a monthly Fabulous Woman series which features truly fabulous women who have shattered the glass ceiling and has been featured in Leader to Leader, March, 2015. Bowman has produced a series of support products which include: Executive Etiquette/First Impressions DVD, DINING 101 DVD and Protocol Training DVD – from her on-line How to Stand Apart series.