No matter how much the landscape of the economy, emerging careers, and business practices may evolve, there’s one old trick every new dog has to learn: networking. Solid networking is the glue that holds careers together. It’s the art form that cannot be machine-made – even if we often resort to machines as a medium for doing it. So what does smart networking look like in 2015? Here’s a hint: drop the smartphone and opt for a blueberry scone instead. It’s brunching time.
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“Like most professionals, I consider my weekends to be sacred; I like to do things outside of work that I can’t normally do during the week – things that do not include trying really hard to build professional contacts,” writes Lily Herman at The Muse. “However, because this was a good friend asking, I decided I’d suck it up for an hour and head over to brunch.”
To her surprise, the experience was both pleasant and professionally beneficial. She made new contacts and friends, and enjoyed herself in the process.
Unlocking the networking power of brunch is kind of like discovering that your iPhone has that app that counts your steps every day: it’s always been there, nobody’s that surprised, but now you can’t stop talking about it. It’s just that brilliant. But if you want to make the most out of your business brunches, try following some of this advice:
There Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With a Little Brunch and Grind
Most business meals can seem dry, unproductive, and a little exhausting. It might feel like your client is just trying to squeeze you for an extra old-fashioned, and you’re thinking some Seamless at the office could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.
But that’s what makes a business brunch so great – people are only just starting to do it, so it feels fresh, and it’s right at the start of everyone’s day so energy levels are high. The idea of brunch may seem whimsical or fluffy, like it’s all fun and games, but if you play it right, it’s much more productive than any other meal you can get with a client.
Use the timing to your advantage. It’s a great way to up the tempo of an otherwise stuffy encounter, and an opportunity to catch people when they’re in the mood to really get something done.
Keep It Small, Keep It Fun
Just because everyone’s being productive, however, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, too. Brunch is cool. It’s trendy. It’s got some mystique – as if you’re breaking the corporate rules but your boss is OK with it. But with that in mind, make sure that it’s a small group of people. You don’t want it to turn into one of those morning raves.
Or do you?
Considering just how trendy it is to do brunch, there are a ton of creative restaurants that are doing Pinterest-worthy meals in just about every major city. But don’t put too much pressure on finding the right place. There are only so many variations on eggs benedict and the right champagne-to-OJ ratio.
Ride the Buzz
No, not the one from the aforementioned mimosas (in fact, maybe avoid those). When you can do a networking brunch right, it’s going to get people talking. You want folks to get the sense that they missed out on something great. And it’s not hard to get that sense when they had to decline an invite to Monday morning brunch – no matter what their performance was last quarter.
Carry the conversation online afterward. Start a group, make a hashtag – something that can get those networkers talking after the tip has been left on the table. If you can do that, then you may yet have hope of mastering the networking brunch.
Tell Us What You Think
How do you do networking brunches? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.