There’s a lot to be said for the philosophy of Never Eat Alone, using meals as a great time to meet new people or reconnect with people you already now. I try to use that approach at events, probably because it’s easier to do when there are hundreds of people around who want to (or are at least open to) networking. I don’t do it one hundred percent of the time, but close, and it’s both effective and fun.
I’ve never adopted it during a normal work week, in part due to not being willing to work that hard at lining up someone for lunch every day and in part just enjoying quiet time at a meal. Most days when I go to lunch I take a book to read (usually career related as opposed to fun), sometimes I’ll work on notes or an idea for something I want to write, and some days its nice to just sit and enjoy some fresh air. The days when I do have lunch with someone are then a delight.
Somewhere between always eating along and never eating alone you can find a balance that works for you.