If I’m going to meet up with a professional contact in person, there’s one time of day that beats all others: breakfast.
Sure, there are two other meals you could share together, every opportunity for coffee meetings, and happy-hour drinks are often on the table. But I want to make the case for breakfast.
Everybody needs breakfast
Firstly: people are available. If you want to get on a busy executive’s schedule, there’s usually limited opportunity. Where are they going to fit you in between their power-lunches, the rounds of golf, and the drinks at the club? (OK, I might be describing a stereotyped 80s executive, but you get the idea.) Not a lot of people schedule meetings first thing in the morning. If you do, then you don’t just get to find your way onto people’s calendar, but it also makes you stand out as different, and therefore more memorable.
Secondly, everyone already has to eat breakfast. I mean, not everyone does, but we know we should. Which makes getting a breakfast meeting scheduled even simpler. If the decision is between having breakfast & then coming into town for work, or coming into town and then eating breakfast, it’s just a matter of schedule shuffling.
Comparing this to coffee meetings (where you have to drop things and then take time out of your day to leave the office), or after-work drinks (where you have to plan for additional post-work time that you might not already have spent drinking), there’s a clear winner.
And of course, breakfast food is great. Whether you’re a granola & yoghurt kind of person, enjoy pancakes & maple syrup, or prefer a proper British fry-up, there’s literally a good option for everyone’s tastes. And not to sound like I’ve gone completely American, but bottomless coffee is a great addition to any meeting.
I think there’s also benefit in it being the first thing on the calendar that day. If we talk business over breakfast - eg: about the areas that Distilled’s consulting team can help with, or the benefits of using a tool like DistilledODN - I like to imagine that someone can allow that to percolate in their head through the rest of the day. And maybe even recognize moments where having Distilled as a partner would help them be more successful.
I don’t know how true or realistic this is, but I feel like it has to beat having someone squeeze you in for a conversation mid-afternoon, or last thing before they head home and switch off for the day.
So: breakfast meetings have advantages for making and strengthening connections that help the business, and helping people’s own ‘personal brand’ in the same way. Will Critchlow (our CEO) had recognized all of these things when he suggested that we should be encouraging more of our team to try this out, which led to him suggesting that we implement an unlimited breakfast budget at Distilled.
The idea was simple: anyone at Distilled can take anyone out for breakfast, and the company will cover it. The only criteria was that we had to explain why that person was/could be important to Distilled, and what value we got out of the breakfast.
We set up a Slack channel (#breakfast, naturally), which was the simple place for people to drop the stories of people they’d met & things they’d learned.
Beyond the reasons that breakfast meetings themselves are good, there were some other great reasons to have this as a new company initiative.
Breakfast is affordable. We put a nominal per-head budget on this to give our team guidance and set expectations. Even with a limited budget though, for breakfast, this means you can go somewhere pretty fancy, especially compared to spending the same budget on dinner or drinks. This puts lots of great places - pretty much the very best breakfast spots - within reach, so you can impress your guests, and it’s a genuinely good perk for the employee too.
Breakfast takes a little bit of effort. Doing breakfast meetings does require a little extra investment from the employee that’s taking advantage and treating their contact. They might have to get up a little earlier, but they get rewards that include an improved personal reputation - benefiting them personally as well as increasing their future value to Distilled.
Breakfast is inclusive. It doesn’t need to take up your evening - which is particularly appealing to working parents & others who would prefer to schedule things at the start of the day. And with no pressure or expectation of alcohol involved, it makes it more accessible to more people.
Breakfast is unambiguous. A breakfast meeting is more obviously professional than some other options. Depending on your region and culture, inviting someone out for dinner or drinks can indicate “I’m happy to have a friendship that’s more social than business with this person.” A breakfast meeting during regular hours certainly indicates that you’re keeping it more business-like.
So, consider scheduling your next meeting over breakfast. And if you’re looking for something that could help grow your business and be a perk for employees, consider running your own trial of an unlimited breakfast budget.
Come and join us for breakfast
And of course: if you would like to chat about digital marketing/content strategy/SEO split testing, or just about any other geeky topic during the best meal of the day, then your friends at Distilled in Seattle, New York & London will pick up the tab.