By Aigerim Shorman

Back in the 1980s, conducting big business implied either formal office settings or “wining and dining” prospective clients — impressing them either with the size of your boardroom or wallet.But based on an analysis of thousands of personalized restaurant and bar recommendations generated by our Wist app [], a new more casual business meeting culture — based around artisan coffee and more meaningful conversations — has taken root.

According to our data and observations, there are five simple steps you can follow to pick the best location for your client meeting, prospect pitch, or networking get-together:

Instead of leaving the question of where to meet open-ended in your initial invitation, suggest a meeting place up-front so that it’s on your turf. After trying Wist a few times our users usually find a handful of spots and make them their staple business meeting places. They generally create a list of their favorite coffee shops, breakfast places, lunch spots, happy hour bars and restaurants. You can always refer back to the lists or see what others have on their lists for business meetings. Try to get to know a few places well: the staff and what the best tables are. It pays off quickly.

Do not leave it up to a chance and accidentally take a vegetarian to a steakhouse or someone allergic to fish to a sushi place. It is bound to be a distraction to your meeting. You can usually ask their assistant for any dietary preferences or, if it’s someone you know through immediate network of friends, just take a look at their check ins on Facebook and Foursquare. On Wist [], you can even add who you are going with and app would recommend top places that fit both of your preferences.

Pick a venue that minimizes transportation and parking time (walking is preferable) so that you don’t waste your day getting to and from the meeting. You also don’t want to frustrate your counter part. Dealing with parking and commute tends to affect how someone feels and you definitely don’t want to start a meeting when she/he is frustrated.

Steer clear of venues with loud clientele, annoying wait staff, excessive eye candy, or anything else that impedes the focus of the conversation. In general, restaurants and coffee shops in big malls are not a good idea because they are hard to find and have too many distractions. It’s also advisable to avoid places where you or your counter part might run into acquaintances. That’s always a distraction.

Pick a place that’s relaxed, conversational, and friendly, yet still professional. Think artisan coffee shops over mahogany steak houses. Again, this really depends on whom you are meeting with and how well you know the person. Some people tend to prefer laid back spots, whereas others like more upscale places. You want to make sure you pick a place that makes both of you comfortable. Try to find out what types of places your counter part usually goes to and in general gauge their style. Some questions to ask yourself: how do they dress (suits and ties or sneakers and jeans)? what do they do for fun (golfing or snowboarding)?

In conclusion, start using the Wist mobile app [] to get personalized recommendations for business meeting spots. It will help you find a few great spots near your office or home and come up with great suggestions in other places. The more you use it, the smarter it gets at recommending exactly the types of places you would like.

Aigerim Shorman is the CEO of Wist (

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