My subject today is Private Club Protocol - Know Before You Go! You may find yourself the recipient of an invitation to a private club for a round of golf, lunch or dinner. Private clubs can be a yacht club, athletic club, country club... many valuable business relationships are made on the golf course or over a meal in the sedate setting of a private club. Please know that crystal clear codes of dress and behavior with few exceptions to those rules, are part of the protocol for members and invited guests alike. Your responsibility is to know the rules of the establishment before you arrive.
Here are a few tips to ease any anxiety you may have about visiting a club for the first time:
Call the club and inquire about the rules
You can ask your host
Ask a someone you feel comfortable with who has visited before
Go online and do the research about etiquette and protocol about the club you're intending to visit
Use common sense
What you should do:
If you arrive before your host, identify yourself to whoever welcomes you, by giving your full name and the name of the member who is hosting you.
Make sure you are dressed appropriately, men, with a collared shirt and no jeans.
For women, bare midriffs, short shorts and tight or revealing clothing are not acceptable, including jeans.
Do not use cell phones in public areas, including the dining rooms. Booths or designated areas may be posted for your privacy.
Obey all posted signs, such as "for members only" or "no talking in the reading room"
Don't wander around the establishment unescorted.
Do check your coat at the coat check. Do not carry it into the dining room.
Don't query your host or any member about the cost of membership or the cost of the meal (no prices are listed on the menu).
Do not ask your host if you can pick up the check because money is never exchanged at the table. The member simply signs the check and is billed monthly for expenses incurred and gratuities.
Don't embarrass yourself or your host by becoming inebriated.
Do not tip the valet or coat check attendant.
Do send a thank you note expressing your appreciation and reciprocate later at a nice restaurant or event.
Whenever you are not sure about dress or behavior, always err on the side of caution and conservatism. Remember, whatever you do, do it with class!