Popular networking event hits first anniversary

About a year ago, three entrepreneurs put a new twist on the two-martini lunch and invited other small business owners to enjoy a mid-afternoon break that merged business with socializing. The Drinking Lunch, founders envisioned, would be an event where the pressure was off but the focus was on creating friendships that could lead to business opportunities.
 
"We came up with the idea in reference to the 'Madmen' days, when people would take time out of their day to have a drink and socialize over business," says Paul Schmidt of UnoDeuce Multimedia. "We started thinking about something along those lines, and created a stress-free networking event where you can do business or not."
 
In mid-September, the monthly event founded by Schmidt along with Ash Harris of AKEA Web Solutions and Courtney Maki of Glow Social Media marked one year of bringing people together. Like all Drinking Lunches leading up to it, the low-key event took place at the Beer Grotto in downtown Lansing—complete with door prizes.
 
"We attract a wide range of ages and a cross-section of business people from financial to real estate to the tech industry," says Schmidt, commenting that attendance has held steady at about 50 to 60 people each month. "It's regarded as a legitimate networking event that people know about. The fact that we've sustained the numbers without it dropping off has been amazing."
 
Schmidt says he, Harris and Maki hope to promote the concept to other cities, or expand the opportunity to other locations within Greater Lansing. In the meantime, attendees can drop in and join the Drinking Lunch at the Beer Grotto, every third Thursday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m.
 
"Nothing is set in stone," he says. "We've had some talk about it. But really, the key that makes the Drinking Lunch so successful is that it's not a super selling kind of event. It's more like, welcome to our space, come and join our conversation, and meet someone new."
 
Source: Paul Schmidt, Co-founder, the Drinking Lunch
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
    
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