7 Things I Learned Being A Lady Who Lunches

I am a big believer in breakfast and lunch meetings and that face time results in stronger relationships and better business results.  This past week I had a number of important lunch meetings that reminded me of their power.  Here are a few takeaways

1. Pitching is everyone’s job. Even when you are as famous as Katie Couric no one can pitch your show or be more passionate than you can. Showing up in person signals a commitment to success.  In addition, surrounding yourself with talented producers and promoters that we all want to work with left us wanting more.

2. How one deals with adversity speaks volumes. Lunch with my aunt’s best friend reminded me of the many life lessons of love and respect over time as she shows unbelievable compassion for a husband who can no longer communicate.  Her approach to charity and doing what is right despite the drain on her are so admirable and reinforced for  me the need to make more time to give back.

3. Don’t assume others will resolve the issues you care about. The Matrix awards ceremony is an annual highlight honoring women in the fields of communication and I always leave feeling like “women can rule the world.” This year I left feeling we need to do more and wary that progress has stalled.  It will take more of a commitment from me and my peers to fight for gender parity and help support the amazing women carving a path.

4. Role modeling comes in all forms. The next day the discussion was intense in a client meeting and thus food was left outside the door.  The President of the division, realizing no one had eaten, personally rolled a food cart to the next meeting on a different floor.  A few jokes were evoked as he proudly did a task he could have asked his assistant or anyone else to do.

5. Be open to learning from everyone. Reverse mentoring is something I am committed to and this week I set aside time for a burger with a younger colleague who was thrilled with her attendance at a recent TED conference.  Her lessons on creativity, her passion for what she is doing and her appreciation for me encouraging her to push us to think differently left me energized for the afternoon.

6. Sharing your learnings is a gift.  The next day I grabbed a yogurt on my way to F.I.T to speak to their PRSSA chapter over lunch.  My themes were around managing your personal brand, differentiation in a tough job market, embracing digital from a business point of view and building relationships over time.  I left with many new Twitter followers and a feeling we had given them some tips that might make a difference for a few.

7. Listening and changing agendas on the fly makes a lasting impression.  I ended the week helping a client think through how changes in their organization impact their next steps.  Focusing on a different agenda than I might have had for lunch will pay dividends in enhancing relationships over time.

Don’t underestimate the power of ladies who lunch.  There is a lot that gets done over salad and cappuccinos.

Barri Rafferty is Ketchum’s former CEO and current head of communications at Wells Fargo.