This is going to throw a lot of people for a loop.
You like to go eat lunch with your friends, or even by yourself. I get it. I used to skip lunch all the time because I thought I could "get more work done" during that time. And for a lot of people, lunch is your "break time". But here's the thing: if you're in a job right now that you need to take a break from every day, you need to go find another job. Like, now.
If you're so leveraged financially that you can't afford to leave your current job, you need to find a way to make more money outside of work hours to be able to do what you want to do. You shouldn't wake up every morning and think "aw crap, I have to go to work now."
And you shouldn't use lunch as a break time. Lunch is opportunity time.
You should be looking for three types of people to fill you lunch hours with: someone you want to learn from, someone who can help you generate income, and current/potential clients.
During these meetings, you should look to listen. You know what's the number one thing in the world that people love to talk about? Themselves! They know more about that than anything else. I'm no exception; if you ask me about something that I know a lot about, I'll talk your ears off without a second thought. If the person you're meeting with loves history, or technology, or sports or whatever else, if you get them talking about that thing, you'll have won an immediate friend.
Ask open-ended questions. Like "can you tell me about (fill in the blank)" or "what happened when", or "how did this happen". Give them opportunities to talk that they can take and run with. They'll appreciate the buy-in on your end and feel more comfortable participating in the conversation.
When you're with someone you're trying to learn from, here are a few questions that you absolutely have to ask:
"What are you learning right now?
This is another blog post in and of itself, but everyone should always be learning something. The most successful people adopt that mindset, and asking this question is a great way to figure out how they do that so well.
"What are you reading right now?"
We already have a blog post about what a powerful tool books can be for your business, but it bears repeating. Educate yourself! If you aren't reading every day, you're missing out on a world's worth of business wisdom.
"Who do you know that I should know?"
Embrace the power of referrals. Even if it isn't a direct lead to new clients, utilizing someone else's network is an incredibly powerful business tool, and it might just find you your next lunch date.
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