Lunch On The Loose

Everybody’s got to get lunch, right?

Three years ago our group was looking for a new place to meet in the evening – one of our members made a suggestion and several of us decided to try it out for lunch. We liked that get together so much we decided to make it a new monthly attraction for our group – Lunch on the Loose!

The rules are simple – get out once a month with peers for a chance to talk and network over lunch at a new place. Follow our example and you’re liable to start down the path outlined by Keith Ferrazzi when he suggests you should Never Eat Alone!

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The networking group

Our group is the Genesee Valley Systems Administrators Guild, GVSAGE for short – a professional organization for people who take care of computer systems and networks. I helped form the group in 1998, and we have been meeting one evening a month since then. We have a hundred online members and get a modest size turnout at most meetings.

The specific networking group isn’t that important as long as it has people with a common interest and a desire to get together to talk and socialize. The conversation usually centers around that common interest, but as often as not, it doesn’t stop there – other topics, such as families, social lives, job changes, special events – the highlights of life – are all fair game.

It doesn’t matter if your group is based on a job, hobby, or special interest – surely you know a dozen other people that would consider meeting for lunch!

The details

In order to keep the event fresh, the main rule is that each lunch be held at a new location. This keeps the event “new” every month, and is the basis for the event’s name – Lunch on the Loose – you don’t know where it is going to be until a couple weeks before. (the fact that we may not decide where until just before announcing the event is just a side effect!)

We schedule it for the Fourth Wednesday of each month. This provides a time gap from our regular meeting, which is the Second Wednesday of the month.

Not everyone attends every meeting and the turnout for these get-togethers varies. Some times we are able to fit at one table, other times we spread across several, and every once in a while we need pull a whole bunch of tables together. The number attending doesn’t really matter much, and sometimes a smaller group is better for networking.

We try to stick to the following criteria when choosing the location:

  • Someplace we haven’t been to before
  • Someplace we can fit into
  • Rotate around the area
  • Someplace reasonably convenient to get to
  • Someplace with good food

Over the last three years we have visited locations with styles including BBQ, mexican, asian, italian, greek, family, deli, as well as sub shops – on all sides of the city. (For a complete list, see below) A side benefit to the networking (at least for me) is getting to try out new places, places I may not have considered on my own.

Breaking the rules…

After announcing our location for this month, someone asked if we could repeat the location in December – they were traveling for the holiday and really wanted to try that particular restaurant. It turned out we had broken our no repeat rule once before, (we had to cancel a November lunch because of the holiday and used the same location the following month). So we once again “broke” our rule and are going to the same spot for both November and December this year. (We’ll see how that turns out)

Never Eat Alone

I threw Keith Ferrazzi’s book title in at the top, and I ought to tie that up before this article finishes – Keith’s philosophy is exactly as is sounds in the title, and I won’t try to expand on that too much… It’s all about relationships – and you build good relationships when you’re with people, and what better activity than breaking bread together?

Keith’s book is next on my reading list, but it is also significant that Keith fits into the “Give First” mold – you can get a stream of tips from him on his web site.

And that’s the nature of Give First Economics – you give (first), and then you receive.

What can you give away today?

Appendix

In doing the research, I found our list of events quite interesting – and motivating. While I have not made all of the lunches, over the past three years, Lunch On The Loose has been to:

  • October 2006 – The King and I Restaurant [South side]
  • September 2006 – Monte Alban Restaurante Mexicano [North side]
  • August 2006 – Famous Dave’s Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que [West side]
  • July 2006 – Carol’s Cucina Cafe [South side]
  • June 2006 – Romeos Restaurant [West side] ***
  • May 2006 – The Oak Leaf Eatery [South side]
  • April 2006 – Giuseppe’s Pizzeria Restaurant [SouthWest side]
  • March 2006 – Jay’s Diner [South side]
  • February 2006 – Rick’s Prime Rib House [SouthWest side]
  • January 2006 – Uncle Danny’s Family Restaurant [North side]
  • December 2005 – Pickle Nick’s Old Fashioned Subs [South side]
  • November 2005 – no lunch scheduled
  • October 2005 – Stoney’s Family Restaurant [SouthWest side]
  • September 2005 – Mykonos Cafe [South side]
  • August 2005 – Aja Noodle [SouthEast side]
  • July 2005 – Peppermill Restaurant [West side]
  • June 2005 – Parkside Diner [NorthEast side]
  • May 2005 – The Full Belly Deli [South side]
  • April 2005 – Calabresella [SouthWest side]
  • March 2005 – Golden Fox [East side]
  • February 2005 – Bogey’s Grill [West side] ***
  • Janyary 2005 – Paola’s Burrito Place [South side]
  • December 2004 – Fox’s Deli [South side]
  • November 2004 – China Buffet [South side]
  • October 2004 – Tuscany’s Italian Trattoria [North side]
  • September 2004 – Desert Moon [South side]
  • August 2004 – Chens Garden [SouthEast side] *
  • July 2004 – Ciaccia Imports [West side]
  • June 2004 – Wegmans Pittsford [SouthEast side]
  • May 2004 – The Pita Pit [South side]
  • April 2004 – Wilshire Catering & Restaurant [West side] **
  • March 2004 – Wilshire Catering & Restaurant [West side] **
  • February 2004 – Cerame’s Italian Villa [South side]
  • January 2004 – Chens Garden [SouthEast side] *

* an actual violation of the do not repeat rule;-)

** repeat scheduling as nobody showed up on the first date, might have been a snowstorm

*** while in the same location, a new restaurant opened there

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