"Instead of a meal, I've been meeting for manicures," said Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire and workplace contributor for ABC's " Good Morning America." "It's $9 plus tip throughout Manhattan. Can't beat that."
If you're not the nail salon type (or not a metrosexual), swap "meeting for manicures" with strolling through the park or getting together at your favorite museum or bookstore.
When it comes to meeting business associates, it's no longer about how much you spend. The person with the biggest credit limit doesn't win. The person with the best half-price happy hour recommendation does.
"I don't think this is all about being cheap -- it's about being smart," said Joceyln Brandeis, principal of JBLH Communications, a publicity firm in New York City. You don't want to be spending your money stupidly for a $500 lunch when a $12 lunch would do just as well."
Besides, it's easier to get to know someone over a low-key cup of tea than while they're wrestling with a lobster tail.
"A lot of my clients like to meet at a diner because it's casual and the sell isn't as hard," Brandeis said. "You can get a bit more information out of somebody that way."
Embracing your inner penny-saver also sends a message of financial responsibility to current and prospective customers.
As Brandeis put it, "The last thing you want is for the client to turn around and say, 'Are they going to charge me back for that $500 meal? Is this going to be included in my monthly retainer?'"
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist, author and former cubicle dweller. Her books — "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube" -- offer an irreverent take on the traditional career guide. More tips on career change, flex work and the freelance life can be found on her blog, Anti9to5Guide.com.