The very first book about networking that I ever read was Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone. The point of the book is, since you have to eat, you might as well do so with one or more others. Not only does it make your meal more enjoyable, but it is a very efficient use of time and resources. Frankly, I like the concept so much, I made lunch my (well, my company’s) middle name!
As you may know by now, Coffee Lunch Coffee is not really about consumption… rather, it’s about carving out regular, dedicated time to connect with others throughout the day. However, if you are an eater as I am (been doing it my whole life), lunch might as well be part of your networking repertoire.
Here are some of the common lunchtime questions I am asked:
- Who pays? My going approach on this is that every diner ought to pay for themselves – even if one or the other individual extended the invitation. Not everyone agrees with that. Some believe that whoever did the asking should do the paying. Others believe that, if it is a sales prospecting interaction, the business developer should pay (I agree). Still others flip a coin, pull a straw or simply offer to pay. Some even take turns. You should go with whatever feels appropriate at the time. It will likely vary lunch to lunch.
- How much time you allot for your meal? Typically, I set aside 60-90 minutes for lunch – adding on some time at either end to travel to/from the restaurant. If you or your dining partner has time constraints, establish that up front and let your waitstaff know in advance.
- Who should you eat with? Anyone who eats.