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What You Need to Know

  • Having lunch away from your desk can re-energize you for the afternoon.
  • You want the other regulars in your lunch spot to be potential clients.
  • If you eat with co-workers, get to know different successful people. Don't become part of a clique.

As the pandemic lockdown eases, advisors and agents are starting to return to the office. The workday routine might never be the same, but many people will be spending time behind their desk and eating lunch during the workday. But where do you eat lunch? With whom?

Why You Shouldn’t Eat at Your Desk

It’s tempting to stay in the office. If you pack your lunch, it’s cheaper than eating out. If you stay at your desk, you are available for clients in case they call. It might sound counterintuitive, but this is a bad idea.

Working as a financial advisor is tough. You are on the leading edge of history, as world events unfold on your terminal’s screen. When the market plunges or sours on the news, it can be like eating your sandwich on a roller coaster. Not a good idea. You need to clear your head and get some fresh air. Having lunch away from your desk can re-energize you for the afternoon.

Try This Instead

When I was writing my book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” a bank president shared this story: When he started at the bank as a loan officer, he picked a coffee shop and a luncheonette. He ate breakfast at the first and lunch at the second. He continued this routine throughout his career, unless a meeting required him to be elsewhere.

He was very specific. Each place needed to have a counter with seating. Places like Starbucks don’t meet this model. He would sit at the counter, talking with the people seated around him.

He was specific about location, too. These places needed to be in an area with a small-business concentration or along Main Street. He wanted a place that attracted business owners, local professionals and shopkeepers. If, as an advisor, you compete with a major financial services firm in an office tower, the people who frequent the coffee shop in the lobby will be other financial advisors. You want the people around you to be potential clients.

Over time, this guy was talking with police officers, printers, teachers, accountants and lawyers. He’s now a regular. (Think of Norm on “Cheers.”) His point was that in this casual setting, everyone talks with everyone else. He pointed out a less obvious fact: If you used the same strategy at a golf or country club, you wouldn’t get the easy back-and-forth banter. There are too many social barriers.

The bank president talked about the significant amount of business he picked up over breakfast and lunch. Everyone knew who he was and what he did for a living. The conversation between two people in a nearby booth went something like this:

  • Person No. 1: “See that guy on the stool? That’s Tom. He’s president of the bank!”
  • Person No. 2: “He’s a bank president and he eats at the same place as me! He must be a good guy. I’m going to walk over and ask him about a loan.”

You can see how putting yourself in the right surroundings and keeping a schedule can transform you into a regular and lead to business opportunities.

With Whom Do You Eat Lunch?

That’s a different question. Let’s assume you don’t go out for lunch. You don’t eat alone, so who is sitting alongside you? Newer advisors might sit with other newbies. Team members might sit with other team members. Time for a different strategy.

  • Do: Sit with someone who is successful and experienced. They make great mentors. They usually love their job and want to help others succeed.
  • Don’t: You don’t want to bring your spirits down. There are other advisors who are pessimists. They can bring your mood down instantly. The glass isn’t half empty, it’s shattered into many pieces in a puddle on the floor!
  • Do: Attend office lunch-and-learn meetings. They feed you. A wholesaler or marketing person from your firm is talking about products. You’ll learn something.
  • Don’t: You don’t want to be in a clique, sitting with the same people all the time. This isn’t high school with the “cool kids table.” You want to get to know different successful people in the office. They often have their own approach to doing business.

Lunch can be one more business advantage, if you approach it correctly.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” is available on Amazon. 


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