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Nevadan at work: Author tells readers what to do when they 'do lunch' on business13 August 2007
By Howard Stutz
An interview with Robin Jay took place, naturally, over lunch.
Knowledge of how to conduct business during the noontime meal launched Jay on her second career as a writer and motivational speaker.
Jay gave up a successful 18-year run as a radio and magazine advertising executive in November 2003 to self publish her book, "The Art of the Business Lunch."
She hasn't looked back.
The idea for the book came from friends, clients and colleagues, all of whom dubbed her, "The Queen of Business Lunch." Jay figures she has been on close to 4,000 business lunches during her career.
"Everyone would tease me because I would book lunches three weeks in advance," Jay said recently at the Palm restaurant in the Forum Shops at Caesars, one of her favorite places to hold a business lunch. "I view lunch as not just about building business, but as a way of building relationships with my clients."
Jay spent about two years working on her book, writing mostly on Sundays. She launched the book in February 2004. Within a few months, the book was picked up by a literary agent and relaunched by a publishing house.
In "The Art of the Business Lunch," Jay offers advice and practical suggestions, such as how to pick the correct restaurant, who pays, wireless phone etiquette, when to bring up business, and when not to have alcohol with a meal. Jay also offers pointers on building a business relationship beyond lunch.
"When I was in advertising, maybe two out of 10 lunch meetings involved a media kit or discussing business," Jay said. "For the most part, I was taking advantage of meal time to build better business relations."
The book's success has led to other writing opportunities. Jay recently contributed to "The Power of Mentorship" series. She has also branched out into a public speaking career, where she discusses the business lunch in addition to other topics.
Jay recently helped launch the Las Vegas Convention Speakers Bureau, which helps bring both Las Vegas-based and West Coast-based speakers to meetings and trade shows taking place in Southern Nevada. Jay is also a twice-a-month columnist in the Las Vegas Business Press.
Question: Why the business lunch?
Answer: Everyone needs a break in the middle of the day and everybody has to eat.
There is no better way of getting to know someone than sharing a meal with that person. The only better way is golf, but not everybody plays golf.
Over a meal, you can get to know more about a person's personality and character than you would at an office meeting. People can let their guard down a little bit at lunch.
Question: Should all business lunches be about business 100 percent of the time?
Answer: When I was in advertising I would use that time, not to sell my client, but to share information about the industry, such as what's going on and different trends. I had a lot of clients I took to lunch every month just to keep them up on different tourist statistics and market research. Lunch was a great time to find out what my client needed and how I could help them. The idea is also not to talk about business that whole time, but build a relationship.
Question: Why not a business breakfast or a business dinner?
Answer: Time allotment and alcohol are factors. A breakfast can be too hurried or rushed because you're in a hurry to get to the office. Alcohol is always a factor at dinner time. Lunch comes in the middle of the day, you're more relaxed and it's the best time share information.
Question: What's the difference between a business lunch and a power lunch?
Answer: A power lunch is where you have a lot of business to accomplish as opposed to just building a relationship. The power lunch of today shouldn't be confused with old three martini lunch of the 1980s. That is a thing of the past. I don't know of anyone who goes out to lunch and gets hammered anymore.
Question: Is it acceptable to have alcohol at a business lunch?
Answer: Follow the leader, and that's the boss or the client. But also be prepared to have an excuse ready, should that person want a second round. You can make a comment bout needing to prepare budgets or getting ready for a big meeting and order an iced tea. Never have more than one drink in front of a client.
Question: At what point do you bring up business during the lunch?
Answer: Usually try to bring up after you have eaten. When you're first seated, you can ask the client how they are fixed for time. During lunch, you can conduct a fact-finding mission that could help you present after you have eaten. If you do it right, it's a great dance.
Question: Who pays for lunch?
Answer: Whoever does the inviting. If I call a client and take them out, I have to pick up the check. You can give your server a credit card ahead of time to avoid that awkward moment when the check comes. By giving your server the credit card, it also designates you as the host of the party.
Question: What challenges did you face writing the book while still working in advertising?
Answer: I wrote on Sundays and my goal was to be sitting at the computer by noon and get in at least a good four hours of writing. The nature of my work at the magazine was at least a 50-hour to 60-hour workweek and it was hard to come in on Mondays because I was doing everything but resting and recharging.
Question: Was it a hard decision to leave your advertising job?
Answer: I felt I was far enough along in the book that I could stay home for awhile and finish it. I had a time line in place for publishing the book and launching it. I always knew I could promote my book, but I didn't realize I would launch a speaking career as well.
Question: Are you afraid of giving up too many secrets when you talk about the book?
Answer: I really enjoying sharing information with people. I've been to many seminars where speakers would tell people to buy their book, but not given them any content. After you have heard one of my presentations and read the book, you will be able to conduct yourself at a business lunch and do well.
Question: How many other speaking topics do you have?
Answer: One of the major resorts hired me to do the art of business protocol and business etiquette for their supervisors. I can speak on essential wellness, stress management and the history of Las Vegas. I also have a presentation on the art of successful networking. My goal is to have about four speaking engagements a month because it takes a lot of energy and preparation for deliver a great presentation.
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