Extended Lunches Are Good For Your Network

At least that’s what I tell my manager.

I decided to take an “extended lunch” yesterday since things were slow at work. So to fight the boredom I walked over the CNN Center from the office. About a 15 minute walk. I was too lazy that morning to make lunch so it was a perfect excuse to get some Taco Bell and really feel great about myself.

The CNN Center does a good bit of business during lunch but tables are generally available but not yesterday. The place was crowded. In line for T-Bell a group with “Western Europe” jackets cut me in line. Clearly part of some sort of conference, I let it slide. I didn’t want to cause a raucous since I’m such an intimidating guy. Once I received my healthy selection for lunch (Crunch Wrap Supreme with a soft taco), I scoured for a seat. I made three laps before a tall table appeared. You know, one of the tables you find at a bar; tall, round, bar stools, only room for four.

I felt bad for hogging the table for myself. When an Indian gentleman with a baller mustache asked to sit there I quickly accepted. I was slowly building my very own Knights of the Round Table.

This guy had a conference name tag on, so in an effort to avoid a really awkward lunch I asked what conference it was. Turns out some big Microsoft convention is in town full of Microsoft employees from all over the world. And the Knight of Great Mustaches is also an MS employee. He’s a Visio Product Manager out of New Delhi, to be exact. And it’s his first time in America. (USA! USA! USA!) We chatted and passed the Kool-Aid back and forth. I showed in my WP8 and he said how great it was. I said I have a Surface Pro and he said how great it works. Normal Kool-Aid talk.

Before I left made sure to get his card and thank him for having lunch with me. I looked the guy up on LinkedIn and he has a very impressive resume: MBA in IT Project Management, worked for Oracle, now at MS. I sent him an email and hoping he replies when he gets back to the motherland.

The key takeaway from this experience is to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to eat lunch with someone new and put some effort into growing your network. You only get as much as you give.

OK, I should probably do some SharePoint stuff now.

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