Last night I got home late from a business related dinner that lasted 3 hours... and didn't feel like it took even half an hour. It was a success and I had conversations going the whole time. The reason I bring this experience up is because of three things I noticed/realized while at the dinner:
- A decent chunk of corporate spend is on "you pat my back, I'll pat your back" type of expenses. In this case, what I noticed was one company buying awards and dinner for another in return for business and acknowledgement. This isn't just a "returning the favor, we're so grateful" practice nor is it unique to the situation I witnessed.
- At a typical business dinner, forget trying to discuss literature, politics, world events, etc. The best conversations where when I joked about how being James Bond is a bigger honor than stepping on the moon. My point was there have been only a handful of actors who have played James Bond versus the 20+ astronauts who have stepped on the moon. Surprisingly, this comment that I made in jest ended up turning into an interesting and lively 20 minute discussion on everything James Bond.
- Football is a male's best friend. Golf comes in close second. And when I mentioned that my cousin recently made the European PGA Tour, everyone went bonkers. I was a smash hit (well, just at that moment). But the best part is now everyone will at least remember me for that; making these types of connections (and even having people remember who you are) is an important part of business/networking.
So if you're ever at business dinners, make sure you talk about golf, football, and movies; don't forget to bring the awards/gifts!
P.S. I am grossly oversimplifying how the business world works, but it was funny and somewhat surreal to be a part of what people view as "typical business".