Many of us take lunch breaks with friends or whoever we get along with best in the office. If you're still working your way up in your career, dedicate that time to initiating and developing new professional relationships instead.
If you want to get the attention of a busy executive for a business pitch, lunch might not be the right time to do it. However, there are plenty of times when it's appropriate to use your lunch hour for networking, such as finding peers for side projects, or connecting with your boss.
Adrian Granzella Larsen of The Daily Muse explains that it's still important to use your lunch hour:
I reached out to one of my mentors for some feedback on my work one day… and I expected her to talk to me about my work — my on-camera presence or something. But her question to me was: 'Who have you had lunch with lately? Who are you developing relationships with? Who knows about you, beyond work? Who knows what your interests are, what your family is like?'
She spoke to me for an hour and a half, and the conclusion to that conversation was relationships are everything. If you focus on relationships — revealing yourself to people, getting to know about people, everything else will fall into place. And I've found that to be true over and over and over again."
A professional support system holds tremendous value, whether you want a promotion or are looking for a new job altogether. The tough part is finding time to squeeze professional networking in place. With your lunch hour, not only do you have the time but you'll also be surrounded by professional connections waiting to happen. All you have to do is initiate them.