Networking lunches – neither fish nor fowl

Networking lunches are an interesting beast – neither fish nor fowl. You sit on one side of the table with an air of quiet desperation while your counterpart across the table hunkers down hoping to survive the next inevitable round of layoffs. At least that’s the way it feels to me sometimes.

Actually everyone I meet during this break from steady employment is incredibly helpful offering to pass on my resume, make introductions, and suggesting leads I should check out. Given the large number of people affected in every industry this rough patch feels very different from those in the early 90s and post 9/11 recessions. Before, being without a job had a whiff of shame and a certain taint about you as a person. Now because the numbers are so large it’s merely a fact of life and probably isn’t the fault of the job seeker per se.

The lunch appointment is made by a combination of phone tag, email, facebook and texting. Half the rasion d’etre of  the lunch appointment is really just for the purpose of meeting someone somewhere at a set time which is a novelty when your main Monday morning meeting means coffee for one looking over job postings online. Although your time is flexible your know your compatriot is busier than ever so you are cognizant of their time and try not to waste it. Keeping positive and upbeat is a constant challenge but it gets easier the more you practice it and pretty soon you don’t even have to practice because you are genuinely upbeat. After all in the Winnie-the-Pooh books Eeyore is lovable but in real life Eeyores can be pretty exhausting.

The best part of the lunch isn’t ordering the frugal 1/2 sandwich and soup it’s really just catching up with people you used to work with and maintaining those vital connections to your professional life. Hopefully after the lunch both parties enjoyed their time and learned a little something.

It’s only a matter of time before I find the right position so I’m using this time to pick up some new skills and reacquainting myself with some of my network. No matter which side of the table you are on – what do you think about  networking lunches? -t

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