Do you ever eat alone?  We all have at some point as a matter of circumstance or choice.  But you shouldn’t make it a habit.

At the very least, eating may be a time when you get away from the hustle and bustle of the day.  It may be your time to escape from the office where you’re staring at the computer screen, answering phone calls, or preparing for a presentation.  Whatever the reason is that propels you to run out the door for lunch, chances are it may also lead you stay out for an entire hour.

One whole hour.  That’s a lot of time.

Ever thought about fitting something else into that time that doesn’t take away from your goal of experiencing freedom and relaxation?  It is very possible.  Not only could you have an enjoyable time while eating with company but you could also achieve some of your other goals in the area of personal development, for example.

Eating isn’t just a necessity; across different cultures, it is also a way of socializing and building and enhancing relationships.  These relationships may be personal or professional; but ultimately, they are the foundation of your network.  And by now, it is no secret that having a strong network is vital.  However, since building relationships take time, the goal here is maximize your time by accomplishing multiple objectives simultaneously.

So here is how you can do it:

Make it a point to eat at least one meal with someone else each day. If you’re an early riser, breakfast may be ideal for you.  But if you’re not, there is always lunch or dinner.  That’s connecting at least 7 times per week out of 21 opportunities; this isn’t asking too much right?

So now that you have a game plan, who should you eat with?

Colleague. Maybe this is someone you work with.  You work with them today, but they may move on to something else tomorrow and be an asset to you.  You never know.

Mentor. It is great to have someone who has been there and can provide you with their insight.  Whether the advice is about what you should or shouldn’t do, this usually enhances efficiency.  And it is great to have someone who is genuinely interested in your progress and success that you can touch base with periodically.

Someone you admire. This one is simple.  It doesn’t always have to be focused on you.  Take the time to let someone know the positive impact they have on those around them.  They may not know; so give credit where credit is due.

Potential or existing client. Whether you work for yourself or for a company, you may have clients who are important to you and whose business you want to retain.  Having a conversation over lunch about topics outside of your business will make you more personable and enhance the relationship.  Or maybe you met someone at an event who you would like to become a client and discuss what services you or your company offer.  Take them to lunch to discuss how you can meet their needs.

Friends and family. This isn’t one to forget.  Non-business relationships also need to be fostered.  Aunt Margaret hasn’t seen you in two months; take her to dinner.

Now, here’s your task:

Starting tomorrow, invite someone out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Don’t eat alone.  Maximize your time by accomplishing the necessity of nourishment while taking the steps to build relationships that will enhance your network.  You’re doing this at least 7 times out of a possible 21 times each week.  See what your schedule allows; you may even be able to fit in more!

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