Ditch the whiteboard and the spreadsheets and invite your colleagues—or prospective clients—out to lunch. Networking is a key ingredient to success at every level, whether you’re an intern or an executive, and while social media and sites like LinkedIn have made virtual networking as simple as the push of a button, there’s much to be said for good old-fashioned conversation. One of the most reliable and effective methods of relationship-building is to share a meal, whether you’re meeting with prospective clients or partners, or looking to strengthen the bond among your colleagues or staff. Aside from being a more personable approach, it’s also strategic in that everyone is a little more receptive to new ideas with a sandwich—or martini—in hand.
Three Martini Lunch
This one isn’t just swanky, it’s scientific. Conventional wisdom—and experience—tells us that alcohol is more conducive to memory-making than it is to helping us remember a particularly tipsy evening. Aside from worsening memory, alcohol also impedes the brain’s executive processes. But it’s this same property that enhances our creative aptitude.
Various studies, including one conducted by the University of Illinois entitled “Uncorking the Muse: Alcohol Intoxication Facilitates Creative Problem Solving,” have found that imbibing a moderate amount of alcohol can help to knock down the barriers to free thought, i.e. “writer’s block” and the like. It may be one of the reasons so many famed creatives (Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote, for example) so coveted their alcohol.
In addition to being a fount of creativity, alcohol can help relieve the tension and stress that so often underlies such meetings. Just be sure to drink in moderation, and never imbibe more than your drinking partner.
Brunch (or second breakfast, for some of us) is a perfect medley of two of the best parts of any day: breakfast and lunch. It also comes complete with its own delicious drink option: the mimosa, a bubbly sweet mixture ideal for starting off a day of casual conversation and relationship-building.
If you’ve watched “Parks and Rec,” you’ll recall Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson had some of their most earnest heart-to-hearts and most stellar brainstorming sessions over a warm plateful of breakfast foods. If it works for those two, it’s worth a shot, at least.
Brunch is also a break from the conventional lunch option, and has recently become one of the most popular options for social gatherings of all sorts. It’s an especially great option if your brunch partner is one who starts their day earlier than most, or if you’re inviting them for a casual weekend midday meeting.
Two Cider Lunch
The offspring of the three martini lunch, the two-cider lunch is a modern twist that takes the essence of its traditional counterpart with a lower overall alcohol content. The majority of ciders have a lower ABV than most wines, and certainly one lower than a martini, making it easy to sip one or a couple without concern about losing your composure.
Ciders also come in a variety of flavors suitable to just about any palette. Though some beverages—wine and hard liquor included—are preferred by some and largely avoided by others, cider is a time-tested classic just about anyone can enjoy.
As an added touch, enjoy a local cider in a local pub or cafe to enhance your amicability and share with your drinking partner your familiarity and appreciation for the city (and subsequently the larger population with whom you work).
Of course, there are many other ways to spice up a business meeting. Have some tried-and-true concepts of your own? Share them in the comments below!