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Monday, June 27, 2011


Rhonda L.Sher
Networking over meals is always a great way to make a connection. The expert on this topic is my friend Robin Jay, the author of The Art of the Business Lunch. I have always found it easy to make conversation and get to know someone over coffee, breakfast or lunch. Lunch is one of the best times to meet with someone since it breaks up the day and is usually a confined time period. There is enough time to make small talk and get down to business.

If you have not taken advantage of going out to lunch with someone that you have recently met and want to get to know better or someone you have known but never spent time with and want to learn more about, then you may be missing out on an important way to network with a business lunch. In Robin's book, she shares the many tips which I believe can be a huge asset when growing your circle of contacts in networking. Here are a few of my favorites from Robin:

  1. 1. Always make a reservation

  2. If you are pressed for time, don't skip lunch, make your appointment for breakfast.

  3. Prepare for casual conversation and avoid awkward silence by knowing a little about a lot.

  4. Don't talk about business until everyone has eaten since people tend to be more receptive to new ideas on a full stomach.
Making a business lunch go in the right direction can really help in developing a new relationship. Interestingly, a poll conducted by the Creative Group, an advertising and marketing firm in Menlo Park, California found that being rude to a restaurant employee is the No. 1 reason a business lunch goes bad. Some of the other reasons included being late, bad table manners and dressing improperly. Another big mistake can be picking the wrong restaurant or not giving the person you are meeting with the right address. Having a table that is noisy where you can be overheard or not heard at all is another thing to avoid when having a business lunch. Finding the right place and calling ahead to make sure that there will not be a long wait or that reservations are taken can go a long way to making your lunch networking meeting go far. A great website to check out restaurants is which provides a list of restaurants that are ideal for business meals. It is also important to limit your consumption of alcohol as this can have an impact on how the lunch meeting goes.

A business lunch can be a great environment to get to know someone and the outcome will depend on how well it is planned. Your table manners speak volumes about you so be sure that you do mind your manners. Talk about things that are of common interest and encourage your lunch guest to talk about themselves and find areas of common interest. I don't remember who said the following but I do know that it still rings true: "bores talk about themselves, gossips talk about others, perfect conversationalists talk about you". Keep the conversation upbeat, ask open-ended questions and most importantly, if you have extended the invitation for lunch, be sure to pick up the tab as this could cause confusion and be uncomfortable.

Here a few final thoughts as you prepare to set your business lunch dates:
  • A business lunch is not the time to order something messy like spaghetti. Keep it neat and you will leave a much better first impression.
  • Remember the focus of the business lunch is not the food. Know why you are meeting with your lunch partner and be prepared to keep the conversation flowing.
  • Act as the host or hostess and if possible, eat something light before your lunch so you are not starved and can focus on what you want to accomplish.
  • It goes without saying but it must be said, turn off your cell phone and give your full attention to your guest.
  • Be early
  • Always ask your guest if they have a time frame so you can plan your lunch accordingly.
  • Be polite to your waiter or waitress. How you treat others will be observed so be respectful at all times.
  • Choose a restaurant with a limited menu to simplify things.
  • Ask questions about vacations and hobbies which are very neutral.
  • Make your conversation transition to business easier with a simple statement such as tell me about your business.
Now that you know some of the do's and don'ts of business networking lunches,are you free for lunch? I would love to get to know you and learn more about your business and how I can help you. If you are in the San Diego area, let's have lunch. Send me an email and let's set it up. Who knows, maybe there really is a free lunch.

Rhonda L Sher: The Sloganator Rhonda L Sher was born talking. She fell in love with words as a child and has never stopped communicating since. Her father once commented that she was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. Not only has Rhonda inherited her father's humor, but it's that quick wit that has become the signature that has helped propel her clients to stardom.Acclaimed Keynote and workshop leader, Rhonda has authored two books, "The 2 Minute Networker" and "The ABC's of LinkedIn," "Get LinkedIn or Get Left Out" as well as numerous action guides, articles, workbooks, jingles and corporate slogans.

In addition to writing, Rhonda uses her gift of gab as a featured keynote speaker, consultant and corporate trainer throughout North America. She has successfully taught hundreds of business men and women on the art of business networking and written hundreds of elevator pitches and slogans.Rhonda's greatest talent lies in her ability to create fabulously catchy slogans that are memorable, upbeat, easy to repeat and create instant brand identification. In addition to the books, audio and video, Rhonda creates slogans and taglines for her clients which are memorable, bring them business and make them, money. She works with you to create a corporate slogan for your business that sets you apart from your competition. Her creativity and energy will tap into your customer's mind and have your phone ringing off the hook with new business.

Rhonda's Products can be previewed at:

The Two Minute NetworkerMingle To Make Money

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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