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Let’s Not Do Lunch + Some Other Things We Can Do

November 11, 2011 | Written by Amber Sawaya

Let's do lunch, where there is no room for papers, I don't get to eat because we are talking and my fancy purse sits on the sidewalk inviting scuffs.

I hate lunch meetings. I didn’t used to, I used to think they were a good idea. Now I hate them, here’s why:

I eat the same thing for lunch every day and I eat it when I get hungry, sometimes 11 am, sometimes 2 pm.

A lunch meeting is generally too early or too late—but it doesn’t really matter what time it is, it’s a split in a productive day. And not “just an hour”, it’s the time it takes to get ready, drive to it, schedule work around it, come back and get remotivated.

Lunch is not conducive to serious business, you can’t easily show presentations, if you are pitching during lunch you don’t get to eat said lunch.

When I do go to lunch:

  • With my friends, because it’s a good time to see them—before the end of the work day and family time kicks in.
  • On Wednesdays, again with my friends, we’ve had a Sushi Wednesday lunch for about 5 years now.
  • On second (or third) interviews, when my clients need a break from their day — when it’s social, even if it’s work social.

The one business lunch I look forward to:

There is one lunch I don’t miss. Once a month I meet with a group of people at Corporate Alliance and we have a nice catered meal at a big table (room for papers!). We have some structured social time to legitimately get to know each other. Then we talk about business, mine, theirs, our clients—whatever—and we see if we can help each other or offer advice.

Last time we were there during the structured social time they asked the seed question “Tell a memorable transportation story”. I’m all like, “BLAMMO, I’ve got this, the time my little sister threw up all over me on Trax!”. Then the president of Corporate Alliance tells this heartfelt story where her husband doled out some extra tickets to Obama’s Inauguration to people on the subway—the whole room is tearing up—and I’ve got a barf story.

If not lunch, what then?

So we need to get together, or we are trying to build a relationship—what else can we do? This is where the New Business Order comes in. The New Business Order is how we are doing business, as remote workers, small firms, up and comers in corporations. This is far away from the Good Old Boys Club. We tweet, we chat, we connect in a myriad of different ways, but we still need to hang out together, face-to-face. Here are some ideas:

  • An actual meeting. I show up in your office, show you my presentation, we talk business. We share some funny stories. I leave.
  • Golfing. But so many of us don’t play golf—how about mini golf? Sounds utterly ridiculous right? But it’s an activity where we spend time together. Bonus, we don’t have to change clothes.
  • Go Kart Racing. I love this, I’ve been taken out by one employer and one client for go kart racing. Activity. Time Together.
  • Aquarium. Also, sounds weird (ok, some of these are more like date ideas), but stay with me here. Take a client to the aquarium, look at the fish, watch the penguins.
  • Do What They Do. Take a tour of their office. I once met a guy that worked in a down testing facility. Like pillows and goose feathers. I was dying to take a tour, unfortunately the business relationship dissolved before that could happen. I have a client that owns a gym, so I did a workout with him.
  • Drop off lunch. Drop off some food for your client, or some cupcakes. Whatever, something that says “I was thinking about you, and I’m leaving these here.” You can even get a cookie with their logo on it from Cookie Impressions (who I met through Corporate Alliance).
  • Coffee. Morning coffee, let’s get together around 9 and chat and have coffee—not a lot of people in Utah drink coffee, but it’s just a code word for sugar and tasty treats in a house that only sells such things. Get a soda, get a glass of water and ridiculous muffin, whatever.
  • After work drinks. While we are on the topic of things a lot of people in Utah don’t do, there is the after work drinks idea. For some people it’s cocktails, again, this is just a code word for sitting somewhere, taking in sugar and perhaps fried food in a house that only sells such things. The important part here is that it bookends the work day — a place you can stop by for 30 minutes between the time you leave work and go home. 5:30 PM.

This guy hates lunch too—Steve sent this to me, I think his actual chat said “this guy hates lunch too”.

What about you, do you hate lunch meetings? Do you have any good ideas for non-lunch meetings?

This work includes the photo “London – Bankside – Mar 2010 – Closing the Deal” available under a Creative Commons Attribution license, © gareth1953.