4 Ways To Think Outside The (Lunch) Box

Lunches and dinners are the currency of business relationships. They seem efficient -- you have to eat anyway -- and humans naturally bond when they break bread together. Too many business meals, however, can be bad for your schedule and your waistline. They keep you from spending time with your family, getting a work out in during the day, or even just catching up on work so you can get home at a decent hour.
Fortunately, meals aren't the only way to bond with clients or colleagues. Here are a few other ways to spend time with people you need to get to know:

1. Exercise together. Squash, tennis and other sports work, or find a running buddy who's willing to join you before office hours for a few miles. Organize a group to go for a brisk walk at lunch instead of hitting a fast food joint. Not only will you spend time together, you may lose a few pounds too.

2. Grow an office garden. Got some empty space behind the office? Plant vegetables and get to know your colleagues as you compare tomatoes and battle bugs together.

3. Form a book club. People complain of having no time to read. What if reading meant you'd have something to talk about with a client? Form a small group of people you think would like each other, and meet regularly to discuss books (and, oh yeah, your business).

4. Try a networking playdate. For the advanced set only, but an intriguing option. If you've got a client with kids the same age as yours, meet him at the playground on the weekend. Not only will you talk while your kids play, your spouses will be thrilled to get a break.

What's the most creative way you've spent time with a colleague or client?

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Photo courtesy flickr user, cowbite