Entertaining U.S. Contacts
Socializing is an important part of doing business with attorneys and other professionals in the United States. Entertaining guests allows you to develop deeper relationships with your colleagues and clients. While there are no hard and fast rules about how to socialize with or entertain business contacts, there are some general guidelines you can follow to make sure your guests enjoy themselves.
Start their visit off on a good note.
If your clients, other attorneys or professionals are making a special trip to visit you, do something nice to set the tone for their visit. If it is a short visit, sending a car service to their airport to pick them up and bring them to the meeting location would be a nice gesture. If the visit will be longer than a day, having a welcome package waiting for them in their hotel room is always appreciated. Easy access to water, snacks and personal care items they might have forgotten can also make getting settled in more enjoyable.
Give them time to get settled.
If possible, give your guests time to get settled before heading to a business meeting, networking lunch or other event. Traveling can be tiring, and we encourage you to give your guests a little down time.
Focus on local culture.
If your clients, other attorneys or professionals are traveling to meet with you, consider spending some time with them at a place that features the local culture. A well-known restaurant may be a wonderful way to showcase local cuisine. Attending a local sporting event or artistic performance is always a great way to connect with your visitors and show them a part of what makes your city interesting.
Plan for surprise attendees.
While most people will confirm the number of attendees ahead of a meeting or event, it is always possible that your guest will bring an unexpected companion. Since bringing an unexpected guest is a frowned on but very real possibility, we encourage you to pick gender neutral activities for client meetings. Meetings in sexualized environments, like a restaurant where the waitresses are scantily dressed, are never appropriate.
Consider your guests.
As the business community becomes increasingly more diverse, consider both gender and personality when entertaining clients. Try to anticipate the possible objections the other attorney might have to a specific activity. Meeting over a meal is traditional in U.S. business culture; try to pick a location with a menu that would appeal to a number of different tastes or dietary restrictions.
Try to avoid focusing on alcohol.
While meeting over drinks to discuss business receives a lot of focus and attention in the movies, it is something that is starting to fall out of fashion in American business culture. Many people are choosing to abstain from alcohol consumption for a number of reasons, and there are few things more awkward than meeting someone for drinks only to find out they don’t drink. If you are looking for a causal place to meet for a short time, suggest meeting for coffee instead!
While elaborate activities are occasionally part of business entertaining in the United States, large expensive events are happening less and less. With the current state of the economy, obvious frivolous spending is not encouraged and may make your guests uncomfortable. If you are unsure whether the expense of an activity is appropriate, consider the nature of your business relationship with the other person and the types of expenditures you would think they would be comfortable with. Being warm and welcoming will go farther than any elaborate show.
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In the second installment of our series on tips for communicating with American attorneys, we will examine one-on-one phone conversations.
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This is the first post in a series on tips for communicating with American attorneys. We hope you find this information useful as you continue to work with American attorneys and encourage you to refer back as necessary.
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