By Tony Morrison
Forget breakfast, lunch is really the best meal of the day. After all, between lunch specials and five dollar foot-longs, what isn’t there to love about lunch?
If you’re unemployed or simply in the market for a new job, lunch offers another sweet benefit: the lunch meeting. This casual encounter can do wonders for your job search (not to mention professional networking). However, many job seekers are left in the dark as to how a lunch meeting should work.
Check out these 7 tips to make a lunch meeting work for you and your job search:
- Reach out. It might be first-date nerve-wracking, but if you want a lunch meeting, you need to reach out first. Thanks to social media and email, jetting over a quick invitation couldn’t be easier.
There are plenty of people that can help you in your job search, so don’t feel that your lunch meeting has to be with a potential employer. Try meeting up with past classmates, someone you look up to, or a former co-worker. Perhaps meet with a friend and ask them to bring along a work colleague or two.
- Be flexible. Chances are, the person you want to meet will have a more rigid schedule than you, so be flexible. Offer to meet at different times or on different days. If you want to go 2.0, scheduling applications like Tungle.me take the hassle out of finding the right time to meet.
- Come prepared. If you wanted to meet with this person, expect to lead the conversation. Do your research about your contact and come up with a couple questions to ask them. Don’t just ask simple questions that anyone could easily answer with a simple Google search of the company.
- Don’t sell (or beg!). Repeat after me. This is not an interview. That means the person you’re meeting with doesn’t have a job for you and isn’t looking to hire. They are meeting with you because you want to discuss the industry and the job hunt with them.
In a perfect world, your lunch might end in a job lead or tip, but don’t pursue it.
- Just say No. You might be nervous, but pass on the pint of ale, wine list, or jello shots. It’s lunchtime and, if the person you’re meeting with has a job to get back to, they’re not going to drink either. This lunch might be a little casual, but not casual enough for cocktails.
- Expect to pay. Just like a first date, go in with the expectation that you’ll be taking care of the tab. After all, you’re the one who wanted to meet in the first place. By paying (or attempting to pay) for the meal, you’re showing your lunch buddy that you are professional and grateful for the time they spent with you.
Worried about bankrolling this meal? Do some research to find an affordable restaurant with good service and food. Consider the lunch rush too when selecting a restaurant. Try to avoid a long, uncomfortable wait for a table. A happy lunch over sandwiches is considerably nicer than a stressed out lunch over lobster.
- Coffee works, too. If you find yourself limited by your schedule or wallet, go for coffee instead. It might be shorter than lunch, but a coffee meeting will get straight to the point and leaves less room for awkward silence. Tip: pick a coffee shop that isn’t going to be flooded with people.
What do you think? Have you ever used a lunch meeting in your job search? How did it work for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Tony Morrison is the Vice President of Business Development at Cachinko, a unique professional community where social networking and job opportunities come together. His roles include sales, marketing, and business development. He brings passion to Cachinko where he focuses on helping job seekers to find their ideal job and employers to find, attract, and engage their next rock star candidates.