Very interesting topic we don’t see much. I’m probably in the minority, but I’d like to share what has worked best for me.
90% of the business I have ever conducted over a meal has been at breakfast. By lunch time, I’m too busy and dinner is usually reserved for family. But breakfast is perfect. You get people when they’re fresh and before they’re sidetracked. I prefer to have private meetings first thing in the morning and have also regularly gone to Chamber of Commerce, tech groups, vendor presentations, even Toastmaster breakfasts. They’re always early enough for most people and work out great if you want to network or sell and still have a day job. And they never run over because everyone has somewhere to go.
And guess what I’ve eaten at every single one of them?
Business breakfasts are about business, not breakfast. You can do three things with your mouth at breakfast (talk, eat, or both) and two of them are bad. I spend most of my day at my terminal, so the business breakfast is my big chance to talk, listen, and learn. And food just gets in the way.
You can’t talk while you’re chewing, almost every choice is time bomb for an accident, and in my humble opinion, food just slows you down in the morning.
So I let the others eat while I talk (and listen). I accomplish twice as much as anyone else at these breakfasts.
I just have a cup of coffee that I may or may not drink. (You may look like you’re wasting food if you don’t eat it all, but nobody cares how much of your coffee you drink). If I’m really hungry in the morning, I’ll grab something “before” going to the breakfast, but I’m more likely to wait until afterward.
Jimmy Carter took this idea to the extreme by never eating dinner at dinners. He was too busy networking and conducting business while everyone else was eating. I’ve never gone that far, but his strategy works perfectly for the business breakfast.