Why You Should Hold An Un-Networking Lunch

In my last email, I told you about the success of bringing two people in my network together over a lunch meeting, and how that led me to organize a lunch with ten professionals shortly thereafter. This larger-format lunch eventually came to be known as an “un-networking lunch,” a particular style of event that I’ve perfected over the years.

WHY UN-NETWORKING LUNCHES?

This single strategy has completely replaced the 1:1 lunch model I was inefficiently utilizing for years. I have now hosted over 500 “un-networking lunches,” and they have been one of the primary ways for me to effectively get in front of more ideal prospects while increasing the quality and quantity of my professional relationships.

Regularly bringing together remarkable professionals in your network offers many benefits, which include:

  • Creating value for your network by connecting clients and COIs (Centers of Influence) who can become resources for each other
  • Meeting new COIs and ideal prospects who you likely would not have met otherwise
  • Having an opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) your business to new and existing connections (which should lead to acquiring new clients)
  • Becoming the go-to resource in your market

These are just a few of the benefits to be had from hosting these lunches, and I haven’t even mentioned the most valuable one yet.

ONE-TO-MANY

“Un-networking lunches” will allow you to develop and deepen relationships with 5-10 times as many professionals without allocating more of your time or money to this activity.

If you currently have one lunch meeting per month, you are only meeting or staying in touch with 12 professionals each year. It’s likely you will have 12 attendees at your first lunch!

If you are already planning to allocate two hours of your time to having lunch with a COI or client, wouldn’t you rather spend that time with twelve professionals?

Having hosted hundreds of these events, I can assure you that they are neither hard to organize or expensive to run. For each lunch, you will only need to invest $15 (to cover your meal) and 2.5 hours of your time (including the two hours for lunch) to yield a massive impact on your network and your business.

WHO SHOULD YOU INVITE?

The success of your lunch will correlate directly with the similarity of the quality and intentions of the professionals you invite.

The first thing you need to do is assess your current network and determine who would benefit from connecting with each other.

When inviting guests, focus on professionals who have similar roles and are in complementary industries. If you are in sales, bringing together other sales professionals who sell to similar businesses makes sense. Just don’t expect a CEO to derive value from this group.

As a Financial Advisor, I started by inviting a handful of my business owner clients, some additional COIs (accountants, attorneys, bankers, etc.), and a few other looser connections I wanted to get to know better.

If you are going to invite successful and influential professionals as I do, you’ll want to keep in mind they may have negative feelings about networking and the possibility of being pitched.

From day one, I wanted these lunches to be an environment where people showed up looking for ways to help others (as opposed to pitching their products or services).

To make sure I didn’t unwittingly create a pitch-fest, I established a 3-part criteria for determining the types of people I would invite: 1) they were good at what they do, 2) they had the ability to help others, and 3) they had a willingness to do so.

If you create an environment made up exclusively of people wired like this, great things will happen.

CONFIRM INTEREST

As with most things these days, you don’t have to put forth any effort until you know it is something people want. In my next email, I am going to share the exact process I use to execute an “un-networking lunch” from start to finish so that you can host one in your area. In the meantime, you should begin to think about who you would like to invite and consider gauging the interest of these individuals.

First, you should assemble a list of 10-15 people you believe would benefit by attending a lunch.

(Ideally, you would also benefit by their attendance.)

Then, send an email letting them know that you’re considering hosting a lunch to connect the remarkable professionals in your network with one another and ask them if this would be of interest.

Here is the email I use. Go ahead and send it – I promise you will get a resounding “Yes!” from almost everyone.

More in the next email…

It gets even better.

EMAIL TEMPLATE

Name

Lunch Overview and Invitation Template (one combined email)

Goal

Introduce concept and gauge interest

Subject

Are you available for lunch?

Body

Hi {{ first_name | fallback: “there” }},

 

I am in the process of planning an “un-networking lunch” as a way to efficiently and effectively connect the remarkable professionals in my network with one another. I am only inviting those who have a successful business and who value developing mutually beneficial relationships. No lead exchanging or pitching will be taking place.

 

While you (and the other guests) will have an opportunity to introduce your business, current areas of focus and/or anything you could use help with, all I ask is that everyone shows up with a focus on how they may be able to add value for the other attendees.

 

The lunch will be dutch-treat (separate checks) with approximately 8-10 carefully selected professionals. 

 

Let me know if this would be of interest and I will circle back to find a good date based on everyone’s availability. I promise this will be a good use of your time and I am excited to introduce you to other people in my network who can impact your business. 

 

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Cheers,

 

[NAME]

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