“I went to a fundraiser luncheon the other day. Our table was way too crowded. No one could tell where their place setting started and where their neighbors began. I ended up without a water glass. Can you give me some tips on how to decipher things the next time this happens?” – Beth
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This happens all the time. You are seated at a round table that should seat 8 comfortably, with 10 people squeezed together like sardines, making it very difficult to determine exactly where your dining real estate begins and ends. You have a couple of options. I would suggest breaking the ice with your tablemates by saying you have a trick to help everyone figure out which drink or bread plate belongs to whom. A fun way to do this is to have everyone at the table take both their left and right hands and make the ‘ok’ sign by touching their pointer finger to their thumb. The ‘ok’ sign will resemble a lowercase ‘b’ on your left hand and a lowercase ‘d’ on your right…standing for ‘bread plate’ and ‘drink’. Or, if you would like to be a little more sophisticated, you can use the initials ‘BMW’ describing not only a popular car, but also ‘Bread, Meal, Water.’ Whichever method you choose, I’m sure your tablemates will be most appreciative of you sharing this tip.
Attending fundraising luncheons is an important aspect of doing business. Not only are you supporting a good cause, but you’re also in a prime situation to work on relationship building and networking. If the event is open seating, seek out a table where you don’t yet know anyone. Then ask them how they’re involved with the beneficiary of the event. Before you know it, you’ve made new connections and have built new relationships.
For more tips on navigating the business meal, here is great advice on hosting a successful lunch meeting, understanding the different dining styles, and we’ve also got you covered if the event is after hours or has a buffet.