Few people know lunch meetings better than Kevin Liles. After he moved on from his position as executive VP of Warner Music Group in 2009, Liles made the 35th-floor lobby restaurant and lounge at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, off New York’s Columbus Circle, his office. From a corner table overlooking Central Park, he held court with clients and execs daily as he launched his own venture, KWL Management. Liles has since moved on to permanent digs in the Flatiron District, but his lunch calendar has only gotten busier: At press time, he was booked through late August. Here, Liles shares his well-practiced tips on the art of power lunching.
Keep It Light
Lunches are mostly for introductions and celebrations. You get the possibility of what a deal could look like. If you sign a deal, you could say, “Let’s have a celebratory lunch,” but you’re not going to hammer out the paperwork at lunch.
Be A Regular
I’m a creature of habit in a lot of ways; I frequent the same places all the time. It helps when familiarity is there so the staff knows who you are, where you like to sit, what food you like to eat. They only suggest things that fit my dietary needs — no fried foods, no sugar, lots of protein, lots of vegetables, no carbs. It’s one less thing that you have to think about when you’re going to a meeting.
BlackBerry off. Let’s just focus on what we’re there for, what we’re here to accomplish. After most of those meetings, when I’m done, I have 74 messages and I’m in catch-up mode.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
You have to be open. You have to continue to find different people to build with. You never know when an opportunity is looking you right in the face. It might be at that lunch. I’m not such a staunch person that I can only meet with “these” kinds of people. If you looked at my schedule, some people might be like, “Well, why would you have lunch with this person? He’s just an intern.” Well, not only am I looking for nutrients from the food — I’m looking for nutrients from the people I interact with.