How to Host an “Un-Networking Lunch”

In my first and second parts of this 3-part series, I covered why you should be hosting your own Un-Networking Lunches and who you should invite.

Now I am going to show you everything else you need to know to execute your first lunch, and how you can leverage this strategy to acquire more clients for your business. Read to the bottom of this post for a free PDF highlighting the entire process for getting your first Un-Networking Lunch off the ground!

WHERE AND WHEN

Once you have confirmed interest from folks in your network, it’s time to pick a great spot to host the lunch. You’ll ideally want to select a restaurant that has a private dining room (almost all of them will allow for this). (If you are located in North America, OpenTable allows you to search for private rooms in many regions.)

Let locale dictate your restaurant choice (you can indulge your foodie habits on your own time). If, like me, you live in a widespread city, choose a central location that is easy to get to.

You will also want to confirm the restaurant can accommodate separate checks. This reinforces that everyone is there by choice, to add value, and without obligation.

I recommend starting at 11:45. Starting before the noon rush should make it easier for your guests to park and get settled in.

Alternatively, you can host the lunch at your office if you prefer (or there aren’t any good private rooms in your region). However, if you do this, I would cover the bill.

Finally, it’s time to pick a date and send out your invitations. Ideally, you will have between 6-12 professionals attending your lunch, so you should plan on sending out 10-20 invitations.

IT’S SHOWTIME

By now you may be asking, “What actually happens at these Un-Networking Lunches that makes them so effective?”

Every Un-Networking Lunch I have hosted has been unique in some way. They don’t always go as-scripted, but they are always valuable.

As the host, your primary function will be facilitating a roundtable discussion in which each attendee introduces their business, current areas of focus, and anything they could use help with.

I typically give each person 5-7 minutes to address the group (pick a time allotment based on the number of attendees), and suggest they cover any or all of the following:

  • Their name and their business
  • A description of their ideal client/opportunity
  • A recent success story, or problem they helped resolve
  • How the group can identify potential opportunities for them
  • What types of professionals share the same clientele
  • Any events/causes they are currently involved with
  • Other organizations they are involved with (boards, charities, etc.)
  • A few personal details (family, hobbies, etc.)

This framework will keep everyone on the same page and give them a common language to speak throughout the course of the lunch.

At a minimum, each of your guests will leave with new connections and a desire to help you because you made this happen. In addition to providing an excellent forum for members of your network to connect and develop lasting relationships with each other, these lunches will give you a great opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) your business to all of your guests.

Many of the people in the room will know about your business and how they can identify a good opportunity for you, but even if you have communicated this to them in the past, it’s always beneficial to reinforce your value proposition.

However, the main reason why my lunches work is that I am primarily focused on adding value for professionals in my network and making sure they connect with others in a meaningful way. The new connections made and their lasting impact will prove to be incredibly valuable for all of your guests – all thanks to you.

And just like with Bob and Mark from my first lunch, they will be eager to invite their colleagues to the next one.

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING

After hosting your first lunch, you will see how easy they are to execute, and how valuable they are for you and your guests. Now, I want you to understand how you can leverage these lunches to get in front of more ideal prospects for your business – prospects you likely would not have met otherwise.

On average, over 80% of my lunch attendees invite someone new to attend a future lunch. But let’s assume that number is only 50%. Here’s the breakdown:

  • First lunch: 8 participants (all existing contacts) = 4 new contacts for you
  • Second lunch: 12 participants (8 originals plus 4 referrals) = 6 new contacts
  • Third lunch: (ideally spread over two lunches): 18 participants = 9 new contacts

To summarize, you will put yourself in a position to interact with 19 brand new prospective clients and COIs over approximately four lunches.

If you are already planning to attend four 1:1 lunch meetings over the next couple of months, hosting Un-Networking Lunches will allow you to meet almost five times as many people, with almost the same time commitment. (By the way, you will gain 13 new introductions during the next round if you keep it going.)

The great thing about hosting these lunches is you are in control, especially when it comes to how often you plan them. I have hosted as many as nine lunches (for 90 people) in one month, but you will end up with similar results (number of new connections) regardless of your pace.

YOUR TURN

I hope you see the benefits – for you and your key relationships – to be had by hosting Un-Networking Lunches and hope you are inspired to take action.

To make it easy for you to host your first lunch (and hopefully many more), I have put together the Un-Networking Lunch Playbook, which includes email templates and resources, to make this as turn-key as possible for you.

To get it, click here and it will automatically download to your computer or mobile device.

If you decide to put this into action, I would love to hear from you. Good luck, and let me know if I can help.

 

If you liked this email, please feel free to share the post with a friend or colleague.

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