Does anyone have any tips on how to best arrange networking lunches when there's a requirement that they be groups rather than individuals?

I have a personal boundary regarding not going out to lunch alone with a co-worker or vendor of the opposite gender. This is not an uncommon policy for many faith-based organizations as well.

Working in a service industry, the majority of my colleagues are female. After listening to the cast on calendar management [url], which suggests regular networking lunches, I realized that I could do a better job of doing this, but won't ask women out to lunch alone.

Obviously, I could organize threesomes and so forth, but just wondered if anyone else has developed convenient approaches to making networking lunches work within good boundaries of propriety?

pmoriarty's picture
Training Badge

Wow, tricky question!

Given your situation, I cant see how to get around this without having multiple people at the lunch.

jhack's picture

By phone?


asteriskrntt1's picture

As someone who also abides by similar personal boundaries, the issue of being alone with the opposite sex is primarily a problem if you are alone and out of sight, with no chance of being disturbed.

If you are in a public place, where it is obvious to all what you are doing (ie, having a business lunch), this should not be an issue, especially if you tell your significant other (and colleagues) what you are doing beforehand.


tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

Mark pointed out, over on the Podcast discussion
[quote]The purpose of the "lunch" is not to eat, it's to strengthen your network. [/quote]

So if you can't go out for lunch (for whatever reason) the goal is still there.

A colleague of mine doesn't eat out, at all, for personal reasons. But she's the first person to get on the phone when she hears news about former coworkers, knows everybody's birthdays, and writes actual letters to people (on paper and everthing) while she's having lunch. She has the best network of anybody I know.


johnsonwarren's picture

The question here isn't so much not being able to do lunch, though, it's how to conveniently arrange threesomes or more without the awkwardness of ending up with two somes.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Don't do them.

Spend the lunch time that you would have lunch with someone in sending emails and chatting on the phone with your broader network.


huntbk's picture

I might as well be the one to set off the fireworks. :P

If you are taking extra precautions because you think that a networking situation with another colleague is inappropriate because of their sex, then you are not seeing them as corporate equals.

If you cannot be at a business meeting with a woman alone, then the problem seems to be within and you should do as others suggest -- sit at your desk and network by phone.

To worry about a business meeting because the other attendee is a woman is offensive and insulting to the woman, and I can't see a truly beneficial networking situation coming out of it.

tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

[quote="johnsonwarren"]The question here isn't so much not being able to do lunch, though, it's how to conveniently arrange threesomes or more without the awkwardness of ending up with two somes.[/quote]

How do you do this "normally?"

Do you have other parts of your life where you arrange meetings that include women? Are you involved in community associations or PTA activities or religious community planning that involves women? Do you travel on business? (I can't count the times over the past 20 years it's been me and one of my female colleagues in a rental car together.) How do you assure "chaperonage" in those cases?

I won't go as far as huntbk -- I don't think it's necessarily offensive or insulting -- but I do think it won't help your career to have this kind of barrier to working effectively with women. If this is really a firm rule, the effects won't be limited to networking lunches.