Is breakfast the new lunch? ABSOLUTELY!
As “The Queen of the Business Lunch,” I ought to know; I personally hosted more than 3,000 client lunches while I was an advertising account executive and saw my sales increase by more than 2,000%. As many of you know, my tips and techniques for building business over meals was chronicled in my award-winning book, “The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2” which is currently in twelve languages. There is nothing as effective as breaking bread for getting to know a client, to learn more about their business, understand their needs, and find better ways to help them achieve their goals. Something magical happens when you are in a social setting, sharing food. But budgets have been busted, expense accounts annihilated, and time to savor sandwiches and conversation is at a premium!
I am recommending breakfast meetings as an effective way to break bread in this “new economy”!
There have been so many changes in business over the past few years that even though a business lunch would still be ideal, many professionals just don’t have the time for it anymore. Working mothers can’t spare an hour and a half out of their day since they have to pick up their kids at five o’clock. And executives with billable hours – like attorneys – have always had a hard time getting away for any length of time during the work day.
Meeting someone for coffee or breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning is a wonderful way to accomplish your relationship-building goals while saving time and money. It’s not apparent that you may be suggesting breakfast as a way of saving on your expense account. Instead, it will simply seem like a more efficient way to get together.
The pace of business has picked up incredibly over the past few years. Today people just don’t have time for long, languishing lunches. The 3-martini business lunch of the late ’60’s and early ’70’s – where lunch rolled right on into happy hour – is long gone. But most of us used to be able to get away long enough for a decent lunch.
In today’s business environment, however, people just have too much work to do. If the professionals with whom you do business still have time for lunch, I urge you to seize those precious hours in the middle of the day to take those clients out. The mid-day hours can become the most productive time of your day. But for those who either don’t have time themselves or whose clients don’t have any time to spare, breakfast done right can help you to achieve your traditional business lunch goals.
Traditional lunchtime goals are primarily about building relationships – and trust me….something absolutely magical happens over a meal. People let their guard down and they open up. You’ll discover information about their business that you would never learn in an office setting. And the more you know, the better you will be able to help your clients achieve their goals…and that is really what it’s all about. People prefer to do business with people they like, and there is no better way to get to know someone than by sharing a meal with them. And if you don’t have time or the budget for a high-end lunch, then breakfast is the next best way to build relationships.
I recommend meeting at a Starbucks or neighborhood coffee shop for morning meetings. Meeting over lattes and muffins doesn’t just help you to save a bundle on meals, but it also assures that you’ll get that quality “face time” that is essential to business success. It’s a lot like working out. A lot can happen during your day to sabotage a planned after-work visit to the gym. Your friends might want to meet for happy hour or you might end up having to work late. Anyone who works out regularly will tell you that getting their workout done and out of the way first thing in the morning is the best way to succeed.
Scheduling breakfast meetings can have the same advantage; by getting together with clients before their regular day begins, you have little chance of things coming up that might interfere or cause them to reschedule. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you can drop the ball on connecting with clients. Networking breakfasts are also an outstanding way to get in front of many people at once. Mornings have never been better for building profitable, productive business relationships.”
What do you think? Have you tried substituting breakfast meetings for long lunch meetings? Are you saving a bundle? And have you been able to accomplish the same goals?