Lunch is not a luxury

November 21, 2010

GUEST POSTby Paige Arnof-Fenn

At a late morning meeting recently with a fellow entrepreneur, as we were wrapping up I mentioned my next meeting had been postponed and asked if he had time to grab a bite to eat and he responded how lucky I was to “afford the luxury of lunch.”

His comment made me realize that life and business are really about choices.  Maybe it is because I grew up in a food town or have a family whose reunions and vacations revolve around meals but to me the most important meetings on my calendar involve the people I want to break bread with.

Meeting over a meal allows you to get to know your client, prospect or colleague both professionally and personally.  I guess I should admit that I am not a big capabilities presentation or PowerPoint person so having a conversation over a meal really plays to my strengths.  It can be awkward to take notes over linguini so having a good memory for details and follow up is critical.  A few friendly tips that might also be helpful:

• Choose a restaurant where you can have a conversation without screaming over the noise

• Order food that is not too complicated or messy to eat while chatting

• Turn off your cell phone and PDAs, there is nothing that sends a signal that your time and presence matter more than giving someone your undivided attention at all times

• Don’t just talk shop, ask about their interests, hobbies, travels.  Getting to know what makes people tick will help you be a better strategist, coach, boss, colleague, consultant and friend.

Bottom line is that I do not see lunch as a luxury.  The body needs nourishment several times over the course of a day so you really do need to stop and eat every now and then.  Meals used to be a pleasure, something you enjoyed not a quick distraction while on the go or in your car to relive a splitting headache.  So, do you have time to grab a bite?