I did a radio interview this week with Smokie Sizemore. Smokie runs the Smart Woman’s Club – and she is a real spitfire!
I had a question from a caller – Lena. Her question was one that I’ve heard before and you might have wondered about it as well, so I wanted to share my answer here to help those of you who can relate. Lena lives outside of New York City. Her complaint was one that I have about business lunches too, now that I work from home.
Lena said that taking clients to lunch has become a colossal time consumer! As important as it is to get in that quality FACE TIME, she found that a business lunch can cost her up to FOUR hours – between getting ready, drive time into the city and back, and following up. Lena – I couldn’t agree with you more! I used to advocate attending at least FIVE social events a week with clients, and that holds true today – IF You are already out and about!
When I was in sales, I was dressed, at my desk, and ready to go each day by 8:30AM. Even if lunch took FOREVER, (as with my old FAVORITE – a 2-hour lunch), it only took those TWO HOURS out of my day! No big deal…especially when that time was SO PRODUCTIVE!
Now, working from home, I often find myself working late at night….sometimes even well past midnight. By 8:30 the next morning, I’m up and at my desk, but I’m hardly dressed for a meeting. My friend, Judy Owen, asked me what the heck I meant when I would decline invitations for lunch on the Las Vegas Strip saying, “I just don’t want to come into town today.” She was puzzled because I only live about 15 minutes from the strip.
I explained to Judy that by the time I get READY (hair shampooed and set or flat-ironed, dressed, etc.) and drive there and back, I’ll have been away from my desk for TWO HOURS! And that’s not even counting LUNCH!
As you can see, I fully appreciated Lena’s lament. Yes, Lena, lunch in town – especially when you work from a home office – can easily become an ALL DAY EVENT! So what’s the solution?
DEVOTE ONE DAY A WEEK to meetings “in the city,” regardless of where you live. If you work from home, dedicate one day each week to being away from your desk. With the right planning and a smart phone, this can become your most productive day ever!
Start with an 8 or 8:30 breakfast meeting. Schedule a 10AM meeting at Starbucks or a coffee shop near your 10AM client’s office. Make your first lunch meeting around 11:30. Order soup. Next lunch? 1PM. Have some fish or salad. By 2:30, it will be time for SOMEONE’S coffee break, so suggest that you meet that person near their office. In ONE DAY, you can gain a WEEK’S worth of quality FACE TIME!
Then, as you return to your home office, kick off the painful, 3″ heels and slip back into your comfortable slacks or sweats. 🙂 Relax. You had a big, productive day and you didn’t waste a single minute!
We just can’t afford to sacrifice that all-important FACE TIME. And that is truer now more than ever before. 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….breaking bread with them. (even if that is simply a biscotti at Starbucks!) Don’t pass on the chance to meet and greet with clients. Try this. Let me know how it works for you!