By March 18, 2013 Read More →

Food and networking don’t mix

Too much potential for disaster when eating at networking!

Work from Home Wisdom - food and networkingIf there’s one place I wholeheartedly believe in the saying ‘don’t mix business and pleasure’ it’s at any networking or business event.

I totally understand the principle of networking over a meal. It saves time in a busy day to refuel at the same time as meeting people, but I find that all too often I eat automatically without enjoying the food and maybe end up eating too much without even noticing till it’s too late. Or I eat almost nothing and leave with a rumbling stomach and low energy.

The worst occasions are those business breakfasts where people choose the full English because it’s included in the ticket price and seems much better value than the tiny packet of cereal and cold toast you get for the ‘continental’ option. But then they only pick at it because it’s cold by the time it’s served, or straight afterwards they have to stand up and talk about their business in front of a roomful of strangers.

I’ve done exactly the same when I’ve been invited to speak – after all, if you’re about to address a group the last thing you want is a palate thick with egg and bacon – while feeling bad about the waste of food.

There’s also the potential for so much embarrassment when you’re meeting and eating with strangers. Juggling with drink and food, not to mention exploding vol au vents and canapés that drip filling down your clothes and onto the carpet.

Recently I heard about the concept of ‘netwalking’ where the group chats over a stroll instead of standing around clutching cups of cooling coffee. What a brilliant name and brilliant idea – and so much less chance of getting stuck with one or two people when everyone’s on the move.

Food and people are both sources of fascination to me and I prefer to concentrate and enjoy each separately, but I’ve never heard anybody else express this opinion. Maybe I’m socially inept. Or just plain greedy. Is it just me?

Posted in: Food

13 Comments on "Food and networking don’t mix"

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  1. Sharon says:

    I tend to agree with you here Judy. Being nervous there’s always the possibility of knocking a beverage over (and yes I’ve done that) plus my tremors are exacerbated by stress so trying to eat or drink in front of strangers in a business environment is difficult to say the least 🙂

    When networking, especially with people you don’t know very well, eating is one more thing to think about. We should be concentrating on building relationships and giving people our attention not the food.

    • I’m so glad it’s not just me, Sharon! Even worse than networking snacks are proper meals. I never taste a thing and am in constant fear of sneezing, choking or some other faux pas. Food is to be enjoyed with friends, not consumed while doing business. That said, you can take it as read that a great deal of cake will be put away when we finally meet up 🙂

  2. Kerry Law says:

    Agree! Food is to be enjoyed, not pushed around the plate while you’re too busy concentrating on talking to new people. Also, breakfast and lunch are often welcome respites in a busy day and not to be highjacked by work too!

  3. I’ve been to lots of events where food is there – but it’s not the same as over a full meal. If you really know each other then full meals are fine as you’re relaxed. Not the same as ‘proper’ networking though.

    • I see the Guardian are just holding a panel about small businesses exporting and some of their panellists recommend having dinner with prospective customers to get to know them better. Gulp, one of many ways the business world seems set up in favour of extroverts :-/

  4. Sharon says:

    Yikes, my worst nightmare Judy. Plus, a lot of my customers are at the other end of the country. It’s not worth my while.

  5. Judy, are jaffa cakes a cake or a biscuit? 😉

    On the extrovert thing, just ignore the suggestions you dont like is my general motto, and a lot of those articles are written by people with no clue in any case.

  6. Sharon says:

    Jaffa cakes are cakes as they go hard when stale, biscuits go soft (or that’s my understanding)
    And yes, I take the bits I know will work for me and my business and discard the rest Rosie. Sound advice.
    Mmm, biscuits…

    • I assume you’re speaking theoretically, Sharon 🙂 I expect cakes and biscuits have as much chance of going stale in your house as they do here!

  7. Sharon says:

    I ran an experiment once. The sacrifices I make in the interests of research Judy 😀

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