Whether you are career searching, networking for a new position, or already climbing the corporate ladder, lunch meetings are inevitable. Chances are, whoever you are looking to sit down with and get an insider scoop from is currently working and only have their precious lunch hour to give you a hand. So how do you keep your hard earned money or the remnants of student loan funds in your wallet when your uncle’s VP contact agrees to lunch? Here are a few tips to have a budget friendly lunch meeting.
1. Do your research and pick the place. Nine out of ten, they are super busy and if they can relieve themselves of one more decision to make, they will. Since you know where they work, hop on Yelp to ﬁnd something that is tasty but won’t break the bank (no, McDonald’s and Subway are not okay).
2. Order something off the lunch specials menu. Often restaurants serve smaller portioned entrees for a lower price or budget-friendly specialty items.
3. Save half for tomorrow. Pick a menu item like a panini sandwich or entree that will hold up another day. After all,the lunch meeting isn’t about eating, it’s an information gathering session which means listening and talking. The last thing you want is to be scarﬁng down pasta noodles when your counterpart asks why you’re passionate about nonproﬁts. Be that classy girl your mom always told you to be on ﬁrst dates, and when in doubt, order a simple soup and stay away from a salad that will only get stuck in your teeth!
4. If they insist on paying for your meal, don’t happily toss your wallet back in your purse. As much as you’re overjoyed not to be paying for your meal, insist on contributing the tip.
5. Bring cash. Budget yourself by bringing only enough to cover your meal and tip. This also forces you to choose an inexpensive item rather than shrimp fettuccine alfredo.
Regardless, don’t forget to send a hand-written thank you card to them at their ofﬁce. The cost of lunch or less is a small price to pay for their time and consideration.