When it comes to scheduling a meeting there is no shortage of options. You can schedule a phone or Skype call. Book a conference room. Or just plan to meet in an office or local coffee shop.
If you really want to close a deal or hire that amazing new employee, you need to have more lunch meetings for the following 8 reasons.
1. You control the environment.
Let’s say that you recently got connected to a potential high-profile client, business partner, or mentor. They agree to meet with you. The catch? It’s at their office.
Sure. Securing that meeting is better than not scheduling one at all. But when you meet at their office you’re in their territory. That means you have no control of the environment, such as distractions by employees or their phone ringing. You may also feel a bit intimidated because you’re talking to them because they’re staring at you from behind their desk.
If this is the plan — try to schedule a lunch meeting. In this way, you control the environment and the meeting.
You establish the purpose of the meeting and set the agenda. You have a say in the restaurant you’re going to meet. If you arrive early you can even pick the table — it should be in a quiet and comfortable location with one chair facing the door — and the other against the wall.
Bonus tip: When scouting locations think about convenient locations. It may only be a 10-minute drive for you to your favorite restaurant, but asking the other party to travel an hour isn’t exactly fair. It may also put them in distress. Take into consideration their food preferences. If they’re a vegetarian, you wouldn’t want to meet for a lunch at a steakhouse.
2. You’re on equal footing.
This is a continuation of the first point.
When you meet somewhere there aren’t any power struggles or intimidation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed when I meet others in their office — it feels like they have all the power. They make you wait for them to enter. When you do meet with them in their office their chair is higher than yours. Both of these can make you feel small — and even insignificant.
Again, meeting for lunch eliminates this power position and intimidation. You’re in neutral territory and are seated at equal height from them.
3. There aren’t as many distractions.
Ringing phones. Office chatter. Assistants knocking on the door. Those are all frequent office distractions that prevent meetings from being productive.
While there’s definitely white noise in a restaurant it will draw the other party’s attention away from you. As a result, they’ll stay focused and your meeting will be more fruitful.
Bonus tip: Don’t put your phone on the table. Keep it in your pocket or purse. This way you won’t be distracted by texts, emails, or phone calls. It also shows the other party that they have your full attention. Hopefully, they’ll reciprocate.
4. You’ll get more valuable face time with clients, prospects, and potential employees.
Even though you’ll have to block out an hour or two in your calendar, lunch isn’t a major time commitment. After all, you both have to eat and it’s not interfering with their personal life or more important tasks they have scheduled.
More importantly, it gives you both a chance to have some one-on-one time to discuss shop, as well as get to know each other better — while enjoying a delicious meal.
5. There’s more flexibility with time.
Speaking of time, if you met them in their office or for a cup of coffee you may only have 20-minutes to win them over. Even worse, once you’ve made your pitch, you’re dismissed.
Lunch, however, will at least take an hour or more. That means you have more than enough time to make your presentation and get to connect with them on a personal level. Hopefully, this extra time will help them get to like and trust you.
6. It creates a shared experience.
Unless you’re both super-casual, I wouldn’t suggest taking the other party to a diner or fast food joint. You want to impress them a little and show them they are worth more than a quick and cheap meal. That’s why lunch should be at a trendy and popular restaurant. Or, go above and beyond and wow them with a private four-course meal.
Not only does it show that you care, but it also creates a shared experience. You both can recall that time you had that amazing and unforgettable meal together. Sounds cheesy, but having a shared experience will build a solid foundation.
7. It can bring teams together.
Lunch meetings aren’t just reserved for those one-on-one meetings with a client. They’re also perfect for teams.
As Heather R. Huhman notes in Entrepreneur companies that have family-style meals together gain the following benefits;
- Brings teams closer by encouraging communication and getting people across different departments to mingle.
- Boosts morale and reduces turnover.
- Shows employees that they’re appreciated.
- Provides access to leaders.
Additionally, lunch meetings are a great way to welcome new team members since it gives them a chance to meet and greet everyone in a non-threatening atmosphere. And, getting your team outside of the office can spark creativity.
8. It’s the perfect way to say “thank you.”
Finally, whether you’re rewarding an employee or showing your appreciation to a client, treating them to lunch is the perfect way to say “thank you.” After all, who doesn’t enjoy it when someone else foots the bill at lunch? It’s a simple and effective gesture to show appreciation and gratitude.
Bonus tip: Try and be a ninja and slip the waiter or waitress your credit card without the other party knowing. If you can’t arrive early, you could always hand over your card when your guest is outside taking a call or in the restroom. Another boss move would be to say you have to use the restroom and hand your card to your server while you’re away from the table.