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It kills me to hear someone say the following about networking meetings:
“I don’t want to pay $25 for a networking lunch. That’s too expensive for a meal!”

I shake my head because clearly that person doesn’t realize that networking is NOT about the food.

Food is typically offered because of the time of day the networking event is held. You’ll like find the following types of food at these times of day:

– Early morning, before work networking meeting: breakfast sandwiches or burritos, danishes, bagels, muffins, coffee, juice and tea.
– Lunch time event: lunch boxes with sandwich, chips and cookie, or plated hot meals are most common.
– After work casual events: expect appetizers and drinks.
– Dinner event: sit down with plated meals or buffet.

networking-lunch-2-300x200Food is a great equalizer – we all eat, no matter who you are, where you grew up, we all eat. So doing something as simple as sharing a meal is a great way to break the ice and connect with others.

One thing to pay attention to when preparing to attend an event, is to plan to wear clothes that won’t get in the way of eating. I’ve seen women with long flowy sleeves struggle to reach for a roll and try avoiding dragging their sleeve through dishes and drinks. I’ve seen men uncomfortably adjust their necktie during the meal to loosen the tightness so they can swallow more comfortably.

Wardrobe malfunctions are easily avoided with a little forethought. You’ll be so much more comfortable when you eliminate these little nusances… last I checked, most people want to figure out how to be more comfortable when networking. So, take a little time to think about how you’ll be more comfortable in your clothes.

Don’t think about the cost to attend in relation to the food cost only. Most professional organizations have overhead costs of running the group. Additionally, the location of the lunch may have fees beyond the catering costs. Instead, think about why you want to attend the group and what you’ll gain professionally by being there… much more than the food!

When attending a networking event, keep in mind that you’re there to meet other people, the food is simply an added bonus!