Connecting over food is probably the oldest way to network. How quickly you learn what another person is about by eating with them. The GM says as restaurateurs we get to see what their mamas saw in the high chair and this is pretty true. As a dining companion people are usually more guarded, but you can still tell how people treat others, how they handle disappointment, how they express joy, whether they're patient, and how generous they are all within the course of one lunch.
As I figure out my changing role at the restaurant I realize my job is to be connecting people to our restaurant. And having them connect it others. What connects you to your favorite places?