dog sitting at business desk

I believe it was Orson Welles who said, “My doctor advised me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.”

When was the last time you hosted a meal for the sole purpose of introducing few of the great people in your network to each other?

Well, we dare you to do so. Actually, we double dog dare you to accept the challenge.

Recently, a well-heeled lawyer and frankly, excellent rain-maker who leads a cutting edge Public Planning practice in London, graciously invited me to attend her “Board Meeting Dinner” which was actually code for a supper club held three to four times a year. It was a well-organised, simple private networking dinner. Two individuals co-hosted the evening. Each host invited 3-5 guests some of whom knew of each other whilst most were new introductions. The aim was to ensure that each guest was the exclusive representative of his or her business. The date and venue were organised to include a secluded area of a restaurant. The evening began with a few rounds of champers followed by dinner. After the guests were haphazardly seated, each guest was given a moment to introduce themselves. The co-hosts then threw out a few leading questions based on current issues to encourage the guests to freely join in the banter. Game on.

Why does a meal work from a business development perspective?

It involves a few of the most powerful concepts in business development and leadership — authenticity and simplicity.

Breaking bread together engages our senses and encourages the “art of giving”. Yes, the tree-hugging concept that implies we only receive once we have given. Well, there appears to be whole lot of truth to that notion.

Most of us are familiar with the ancient concept of breaking bread that literally means sharing a loaf of bread with associates. It has a notation of friendliness and informality that allows us to share assets. It’s genuine and candidly depends on all five senses. From the moment the guests shake hands or double kiss on the cheek hello, the senses begin to connect. From hearing others’ voices, the clinking of glasses to tasting and smelling food, we become fully connected with each other and our surroundings.

The wireless network that keeps our eyes turned down oblivious to our surroundings and our fingers on a handheld devise is disconnected. Our senses are now firing off signals from every direction that is an authentic, powerful way to share ourselves, indirectly promote our strengths, build rapport with others and just have a laugh.

By generously taking the lead to host a meal and sharing your network, you are demonstrating an unselfish act of generosity. As the host, you will have created a friendly forum for others to share their stories without the pressure of giving a presentation or making a pitch. It’s a sign of true leadership without being boastful. The outcome will enviably lead to guests receiving from finding new ways to work together, identifying other introductions to having new stories. What’s the point of having a network if you fail to take the time to share it?

Talk about a down to earth networking story. One of the guests had literally walked off the beaten path in heels for a historical tour earlier in the day with her husband that resulted in spending the evening barefoot due to newly formed blisters. In addition to having a new-found appreciation for her pedicurist, she has fun story to tell plus everyone will remember her as the “barefoot” lawyer.

The double dog dare is to organise a simple meal that connects great people. This is not meant to be an exercise in splashing the cash, gather three or four co-hosts to share the tab. For instance, three young associates from different firms once pooled their resources and shared the cost of an evening for ten peers at a local pub. Their bosses were so impressed with their initiative that they agreed to pay for their next three dinners.

Before our food came in boxes and back in the day when phones were rotary dialed, we shared our meals, our friendships and our time. In return, we received everything that we needed including great client relationships.

Come away with us to Lemon Bay Consulting Ltd…we double dog dare you.