restaurant-842342_640Ditch 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!

office-820390_640Online video chat apps are not only a great social tool, but they are becoming increasingly useful for businesses too. If you have been using them in your daily work or for important meetings, you have probably discovered this already. But there may be additional ways that your chosen piece of software can help both your work and personal life further in ways you haven’t realized. Here are just a few things you can begin to try out today:

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web-cam-796227_640Any organization that is trying to save money understands that you can’t leave a single stone unturned. It is imperative to check and recheck processes constantly in order to make sure things are not falling by the wayside and actually costing you a lot more than they should. When you consider the cost that employers continue to spend on travel each and every day in the operation of the business, it only makes sense to consider saving money but keeping quality relationships going with video conferencing solutions.

Costs of Maintaining Fleets and Commuting

As Fleet Financials openly explores and discusses, there are more and more pressures facing any sort of fleet than there ever have been before. Whether you are thinking about the actual expenses to maintain the current fleet, or even the potential charges in the form of risk and accidents, even a small fleet can cost you a huge amount of money. Owning a set of vehicles for travel used to be the norm, but is now considered a necessary evil in the eyes of many organizations. The one question many business owners and managers can’t seem to get around is: if I stopped sending out sales personnel, and no longer had them travel and make in-person visits, don’t I lose a significant portion of my company’s sales connections?

The answer is a strong and resounding no, thanks to video conferencing technologies. If you simply substitute the video conferencing software and equipment for what you used to spend on maintaining an entire auto fleet, you can instantly see the increase in productivity. More importantly, you’ll start seeing the savings from no longer sending personnel out. You don’t have to deal with swapping out new vehicles all of the time. You don’t need to worry about accidents and paying for higher rates of insurance. All that you need to do is to allow your reps to make contact via video conferencing and they can still maintain the personal connection. They can do all this while your company saves significant money that would have otherwise been used on maintenance, repairs, and additional expenses just to protect your assets.

General Marketing Budget Decrease

When you start to cut into your travel budget, you not only see the total costs of transport go down with respect to maintaining your fleet of vehicles (no matter how big or small), but you also see more savings as well. By using quality video conferencing systems by Blue Jeans for your primary point of face to face contact, you not only see more people than you could before, but you can do it in a quality way as well.

This means that even if your base expenditures stay the same or wind up decreasing by a bit, because you are able to accomplish so much more and increase your revenue, then your outlays as a percentage of the total budget will continue to decrease.  Theoretically, you could increase your travel budget, but you would still be becoming more efficient because of all the additional contacts you can touch base with, and you would do all of this in less time.

Cost of Hotel and Meals

While not everyone has cut back on transport costs, the majority of organizations are starting to find it necessary. Even if there are reasons to attend conferences, appointments, conventions, and other events, the truth is that the money just isn’t there right now for many organizations. When you start to consider the small startups and organizations operating on shoestring budgets, the costs to travel are unbearable, let alone the additional costs associated with travel, such as meals. As USA Today outlined, in order for business travelers to be able to actually get out and continue making the trips that they are accustomed to, many are starting to get creative. Some are even bearing the cost themselves. By implementing a video conferencing system, they can cut out the majority of travel altogether and make it (for the most part) unnecessary.

Dead Time

When the general costs of your employees continue to rise over time, it only makes sense to see an increase in revenues. That is the goal of a business. However, when you consider the increased costs of employees plus the increased costs of travel, the last thing you want to see are your employees sitting around for days on end and being paid for travel and related expenses. The amount of dead time can instantly be reduced, which means you may not only save money, but you can also save on productivity as well.

Regardless of what size and relative profitability your organization is currently running at, you need to be conscious of each and every penny. Take the time to fully understand how your business can save significant money in the form of expenses by looking into video conferencing options as true solutions for cost and productivity.