April 26, 2012

Why Lunch Is A Bad Setting For Real Business

One of worst techniques you'll pick up in business is "let's do lunch." 

It sounds like a great device for conducting business, be it a pitch or project work.  Often, your offer is accepted, after all, we have to eat!  It sounds less ominous than, "I'd like to setup a meeting to come talk to you about X."  

While it's easy to arrange, conducting real business during the meal is like running an obstacle course or conducting an orchestra with one hand tied behind your back.  Think about all the distractions: The server, the food, the cleanup, the other people eating, and so on.  It's a miracle if you can finish an entire idea without being full-on interrupted. 

There's no way to take good notes (to document what you promised to follow up on), present anything visual or to brainstorm.  Sure, you can try and use your iPad in lieu of a laptop, a slide deck or a whiteboard...but it's still sub-optimal. 

Nope, I'm changing my ways effective immediately.  Meals are no longer a venue for conducting real business for me.  Sure, I can get-to-know-someone better over a meal, say a potential employee or business partner.  But I'm not going to pitch anything or work through project details unless I'm in a professional environment...at work! 

As one seasoned movie honcho told my friend: "Don't invite me to lunch if you want to sell me something.  Set an appointment at my office to come pitch me if you really want my business!"


Posted at 8:37 AM in Business Effectiveness  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)



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I think the notion has merit; lunch may be a nice way to follow-up on a meeting, but there are too many variables that can affect the other person's perception of you and your pitch. What if the food is bad, or the servers are rude, or the setting is hectic? All those factors will affect their memory of the meeting and those negative qualities will be associated with you and your ideas, even though they had nothing to do with it. It's best to minimize the outside influences that can affect how your meeting is perceived.


Tim; I'm not sure I'm in accord with you on this one. I've got a hunch that in commensality, that sitting down at a table and sharing food and drink, we share our real humanity with one another - that business is, in fact, enhanced in the process. Of course, like any social activity, it needs to be done with a deftness and sensitivity to the context. For instance, it might not be a bad idea to wait until the postprandial coffee to discuss anything of real weight.

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