Networking Pitfall: Offering to take them to lunch.
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Networking
What? Why is this a pitfall? Who doesn’t like lunch? Well, I like lunch, but I don’t know if I like you yet. And the thought of meeting you for the first time over what may be the longest lunch ever…I think I’ll take a pass.
I will, however, be glad to meet you for coffee. I will budget 45 minutes – 1 hour. I don’t even drink coffee, but that’s beside the point. I want to meet you at Starbucks. Some of you may say that it’s very noisy, but I say go where the people go. If I meet you at a Starbucks close to your office, someone you know may stop in. And now I’ve just gotten a possible bonus connection!
But, you say, someone agreed to go to lunch with me. That’s great. Just remember, meals require a greater time commitment. And what if you realize after 15 minutes that you’re really not connecting with this person and you’re done? Getting up from the table and walking out is not always the smoothest departure (trust me, I’ve thought about it!). Plus, figuring out who’s paying can sometimes be a little uncomfortable. Should I pay? Are they going to pay? Do we split it? It’s a scenario that can be avoided by not going to lunch in the first place.
Here’s a hasty generalization. Men like breakfast. I’m not sure if it’s because they never get a home-cooked breakfast anymore (who does that?), or that they want to shirk all family responsibility for getting the kids ready for school. “Sorry honey. I’d love to help you out, but I have a breakfast meeting. Gotta run.” Maybe it’s a combination? In much of my networking, men suggest breakfast. Given that I can’t stand breakfast, I usually move it to coffee. It’s fine. It doesn’t make them not want to meet with me.
If you suggest coffee and they suggest breakfast or lunch, you can certainly take it. Just know what decision points you’ll have to deal with and be prepared.
Networking Tip!! The line at Starbucks is significantly shorter (and often non-existent) at :20 and :50 (twenty after and ten til the hour). Instead of spending all of your networking time in line, go there at ten til the hour, get a table, get your drink and be ready when your appointment shows up. If they have to stand in line on the hour or half hour – that’s fine. Hang out with them. At least you know you’re prepared.