A purposeful meal meeting is one that includes a meal and a specific, meaningful purpose, in this case, networking.
When networking at a meal meeting, your networking purpose might be to further develop the relationship, to help a colleague solve a problem, to learn how to refer someone in your network, to introduce your colleague to someone significant, or to teach someone how to talk about your business to his own network members.
These meetings are strategic and results-oriented. They provide high value for your invested time.
One of the reasons that purposeful meal meetings are more effective than normal meetings is that conversations usually get much deeper over a meal than they normally would. There’s more time. The environment is more relaxed. People open up more. The environment is much more likely to result in a meaningful connection with someone than you get from meeting over a cup of coffee.
Not every meal!
There are three main meals that, generally speaking, can be eaten per day. This could give you 15 opportunities each week to have a purposeful meal meeting. That’s 780 opportunities in a year. Unfortunately, dining with 780 people could not only put a big hole in your pocket, but it could tear an equally big hole in some of your personal relationships as well.
Let’s be realistic… If just one meal a week (not including the BNI meeting you are at right now) were a purposeful networking meal you would still have 52 meaningful networking meals every year! Imagine what that might do for building your business relationships. The point is, the potential exists for a substantial amount of networking over meals.
If just one meal a week were a purposeful networking meal you would still have 52 meaningful networking meals every year!
BNI founder Ivan Misner says that something magical and companionable happens when friends break bread together.
The importance of diversity
There’s an important cautionary note. Keep your meal meetings diverse, with a wide variety of people.
If you continue to have dinner parties with the same people, your circle will never grow. Instead, identify and invite “anchor tenants” to your party. These are people who are related to your core group but who know different people, have experienced different things, and thus have much to share. They tend to be the people who have had a positive influence on your friends’ lives.
Purposeful meal meetings, organized regularly and with a diverse group of contacts, will have a significant impact on your business success.