How To Setup a Sucessful Lunch & Learn
What is a Lunch & Learn?
A lunch and learn is a chance for a vendor to meet with employees of a company and talk about a specific objective over lunch. Basically you are trading your time for a little bit of extra knowledge that can help you in your career. These events are also great networking opportunities for the vendor to meet more of your coworkers.
What are the Different Types?
There are basically three different types of lunch & learns that you can have.
Showcase New Products – This is where the vendor will come in and showcase new and improved versions of their products to your company. This is a good way to keep up to date on the latest products and new technologies that are being developed in your field.
Vendor Specific Educational – This is where a vendor comes in and teaches the audience how to use one of their goods or services. A good example is, when I attended a lunch and learn where we were shown how to use the proprietary sizing software for control valves.
Non-Vendor Specific Educational – This is where a vendor has someone who can teach you about a niche in the industry that applies to everyone. For example, I had a class that showed us how the pressure relief valves (PSV) worked and when to use a spring acting versus a piston active valve.
Where to Find a Host
One of the best places to find someone to be the host for the event is too look for current vendors who you are using for projects a lot. The next best solution is to look for a for a vendor you have never used. Most of the time a new vendor will jump for the chance to meet with new prospects and show off their wares. Another place to look is in your own company, if you have someone who has specialized in one area, you might be able to talk them into sharing their knowledge.
An Unexpected Bonus
One nice bonus to lunch & learns is, if your career requires you to earn so many personal development hours (PDH) or Continuing Education Units (CEU) the vendor who is hosting the lunch and learn will usually be able to supply you with a certificate of attendance. This is a great way to pick up the required PDH’s/CEU’s for free and not have to take time after or during work to get them. If you have any extra seats left for the lunch and learn you can always ask around to see if anyone else needs these PDH’s/CEU’s and they will usually be more than happy to attend
We Got The Learn, Where is The Lunch
It is rare that you see anyone pass up a free meal. With a lunch and learn one the the enticements that are used to bring in people is by giving them a free lunch. When you are setting up the lunch and learn, you need to find out if the vendor wants to use a specific restaurant or if they want you to take care of the restaurant selection
One important piece of information to get ahead of time is to find out who is going and what food they will want. An excellent idea is to use a sign up sheet that has the information about the event, the date of the invent, who is hosting it, where the food is coming from and a place to place and order. I have included a sample of mine here. Another benefit of using the sign in sheet is after a while you will get to know who usually goes to the events as well as what they usually order and can populate the list with their name and order.
Lastly there is the problem of who will pick up the food for the lunch & learn. There are some places that will deliver the food for you, sometimes the vendor will pick your orders up. other times you may be able to get a secretary or co-worker who is not attending, to run over to the restaurant and pickup the food. Usually when someone goes pick the food up, I tell them to place an order for themselves as payment so they will get a free lunch out of spending their lunch going get the food.
Send a Follow Up Email
This is something that is not done as often as it should be. After the lunch & learn a good idea is to poll the participants and ask them if they have any unanswered questions. You can then compile the questions together and create an email and ask the teacher of the lunch & learn. This will also give you some good feedback on other classes to ask about having. For instance, we recently had a class on control valves and questions from that led into a class on how to use the control valve sizing programs.
Have you had any great experiences or tips from a lunch & learn you would like to share?