What a fun day! Twice, I was given the opportunity to talk with women’s groups about networking – the first over lunch at the law offices of Polsinelli Shughart thanks to my dear friend and mentor, Karen Glickstein; the second to the KC Women’s Network thanks to two devoted members of the organization, Maureen Welsh of KC Strategic Shopping and Myra Schulze of Summit Insurance Group. Both audiences were lively, engaged and participatory, offering loads of great questions and sharing stories of their own.
It was interesting… I received the exact same question from both audiences: “When you ask people to meet you for a networking meeting over coffee or lunch, who pays?” I mentioned to my mom that the same question came up during both talks and she reminded me that she asked me that question when I first began networking intentionally several years ago. Since I have never provided any thoughts on this topic, I offer you these approaches to picking up the check:
- “Dutch Treat.” As a general rule, my immediate reaction to “who pays?” is that everyone should pay for him or herself, irrespective of who did the inviting. The bill is split. Nice and easy, you pay for what you order – they pay for what they order. Typically, I don’t think that people expect you to pick up the tab; nor should you expect them to pick it up. So, plan to pay for yourself and anticipate that your contact will do the same.
- You pay. If you know that your contact went to great personal expense (of time, information, resources, etc.), if he/she has been particularly helpful to you in some way and you wish to show them your appreciation, if you are specifically seeking something from them, etc., then you might consider paying the bill. Additionally, if they protest about you paying and you hope to make these types of get-togethers more frequent or regular in nature, you could also say, “I’ll get it this time – next time, you can treat.” Your effort will certainly be appreciated and you leave them open to wanting to reciprocate down the road.
- They pay. It certainly has never been my intention to get others to pay for my drinks or meals, but there are times when my contacts “insist” on paying. One thing I despise is fighting over the check… if they absolutely won’t hear of my paying my own way, then I graciously thank them. And, forgive me for drawing attention to what is sometimes a gender and maturity “thing,” but often when I meet an older, male colleague for coffee or lunch, he insists on paying. I simply think to myself how nice that chivalry is not totally dead and thank him out loud for his generosity! Whatever the case, if your contact is footing the bill, express your appreciation and, again, offer to pay “next time.”
In closing, I want to plug once again that following meetings like this, you have the grand opportunity to send a thank you note – irrespective of who pays! If you split the bill and even if you paid, be sure to thank them for their time – your effort will get you noticed and remembered. If they paid, a thank you note is the most polite way to express how grateful you are for their time and generosity.
I’d love to hear what you think about this topic. Do you agree with my approach? I suspect that some of you will have a different perspective – especially on the Dutch Treat option when one person has done the inviting. I invite you to share your thoughts with me and with our CLC community.
And, hey, BIG NEWS from the CLC camp… Coffee Lunch Coffee: A Practical Field Guide for Master Networking the BOOK is now available via Amazon!!!! I am over the moon excited! It will soon be available as a Kindle/eBook and my website is nearly done. If you have a moment, please go out and “Like” the CoffeeLunchCoffee Facebook page. Let me know what you think! If you like what you see and read, please tell your friends. And, THANK YOU for your continued support and encouragement. This book is for YOU!