Lunch. Presumably we all have it every day but are we missing out on a valuable opportunity to secure our dream job, meet our new BFF or the love of our life?
While social media has created an opportunity to network without even leaving the safety of our laptop, social and professional networking groups have quietly taken lunch to a new level.
In 2010 French entrepreneurs Frederic de Bourguet and Sonia Zannad created a new networking concept dubbed co-lunching. With a goal of bringing like-minded people together over a meal, the project was initially driven through Facebook but now incorporates five websites and has thousands of members around the world. While only one event has been held in Perth, popularity is growing in Sydney and is likely to spread west.
Danielle Synen, manager of networking group EveryWoman Business Events, said lunch was an ideal mixing opportunity for women.
"Women are naturally social beings and lunching provides them with the opportunity to combine business with the social," she said. "It allows women to create new business contacts and business opportunities.
"Socially it enables people to create relationships with people from their office that they may not get the opportunity to when in the office. It is a more relaxed environment, a change of scenery."
Miss Synen said contacts you could develop at these events were invaluable personally and professionally.
"Professionally, people can achieve reassurance, hearing from professionals offering advice on how they got to the top, how they manage family life. Personally, you become motivated to achieve more in your life. It allows you to step outside your comfort zone and meet more people."
Real estate agent Peter Taliangis formed his own networking group here in Perth, which now has more than 1600 members. The group's events are co-ordinated through LinkedIn and Mr Taliangis said it attracted a lot of people new to the State.
"The group is one of the biggest in Perth, so it attracts a lot of people moving to Perth and establishing a new life in Perth," he said.
Mr Taliangis said there were usually 30 to 40 people at each event and they came from all walks of life.
"The careers range from engineers to business consultants, people in all sorts of industries - from big businesses that might have global operations to single one-man bands."
Seashells Hospitality Group business development manager Michelle Taylor said she turned to professional lunching as a way of promoting the business' properties."Lunches work well for a lot of people," she said. "In my industry I already have to attend a lot of evening functions and if people have children to collect after school they can't do those kind of events. It's one of those great opportunities as you should be stopping to eat lunch anyway."