To drink or not to drink?
What to consider before you mix drinking and business
Lowcountry living and a good cocktail. They seem to go together like peanut butter & jelly, coffee & cream, and bacon & eggs. And while there are a lot of places where a good Lowcountry cocktail can make for the perfect addition to an occasion, there’s probably one occasion where you’ll probably want to “think before you drink”: a business or networking event.
People drink because it loosens them up — but remember what mama said about “loose lips sink ships”? Put a few cocktails in most people and they are often off to the races — throwing caution to the wind and saying things that they might not ordinarily say, doing things that they might not ordinarily do, and, in general, acting in a way that may not be kept within their traditional image and “brand.” We can pretty much guarantee that the story coming from others about the event they saw you at last week wasn’t about the event and how many great connections they made, how it was a beautiful venue, how their name was spelled right on their nametag and how they are looking forward to following up with the new possible business opportunities they encountered. What people really end up talking about after a business event is the guy/gal that was a close talker who smelled like pinot/bourbon/beer (take your pick) who wouldn’t stop talking and then proceeded to jump up on the high top when their favorite song came on. Did we mention that they spilled their drink on the way up onto the high top?
Networking/business events + alcohol is not a great combination and, more often than not, can be an equation for disaster (and often, resulting in zero new business leads.) Sure, we can say ‘know your limit” and limit yourself to one or two drinks. But in all honesty, why do even that? Why wouldn’t you want to be on top of your game/clear headed/ able to articulate (and “sell in”) your elevator pitch clearly, concisely – and without slurring? Wouldn’t you rather be the center of attention in a good way, than someone who is talked about the day after? Just sayin’.
So if you feel like you need to “loosen up” before a business meeting – we suggest skipping those sips of your favorite cocktail and leaving that for another time and instead turning to other things you can do to feel relaxed – while still staying sharp and on top of your game:
1. Soothe your nerves with song. On your way to the event, play your favorite songs and sing at the top of your lungs – with windows down if you have a good voice (and windows up if you don’t!)
2. Arrive early and grab the best spot. Get there early and position yourself by the front entrance to the event. If you act as if you are the host/hostess of the event and say hello to people walking in, it gives you something to do and you don’t have to wait to find someone to talk to (and it will look more natural to not have a drink in your hand while you do that, so all the better!)
3. Substitute. There’s lots of options you can take advantage of without turning to an alcoholic drink at a business function. If you feel like you absolutely have to have a drink in your hand, grab a Perrier with lime, club soda or Sprite. They all look like a well-mixed vodka and tonic and these sparkling non-alcoholic beverages will ensure that your conversation is just as sparkling.
4. Leave early. Once you’ve met all the people you came to meet, say your goodbyes and head home. And, of course, once home feel free to make yourself a cocktail and enjoy!