Last night, our digital marketing agency held our first Beer & Business Networking Group meeting at the Appalachian Brewing Company in Collegeville, so I thought a blog article on alcohol in the world of business would be appropriate for today.
Being in the business industry, you’ve probably been invited to (or hosted) a lunch, dinner, or some type of event where alcohol has been offered – and you’ve probably found out that throwing alcohol into the mix can either help (think “business deal”) or hurt (think “embarrassing holiday party”).
So when it comes to drinking and business, how should you balance the two?
What to Do
One of the easiest ways to approach the situation is to follow the leader. If the host (whether it be your boss, client, interviewer, etc.) orders a drink, follow suit. However, that doesn’t mean you have to drink as many as they do. You can always just order one.
If you’re the one hosting the party, you’ll probably be asked first for a drink order. Here, you can either order a drink to set the tone for the meeting or deter the question and ask your guest(s), “What would you like?”
No matter what role you play at your event, know the alcohol content of what you’re ordering – the last thing you want is to have too many Whiskey Sours sneak up on you. Check out this awesome “Periodic Table of Alcohol” from Business Insider and familiarize yourself with what would be appropriate to order in your situation.
If you’re at a social business event (hence, one where you’ll likely be shaking a lot of hands), keep your drink in your left hand. This way, your right hand will be free for handshakes and you can avoid an awkward condensation-focused greeting.
Traveling for business? Do some research ahead of time about the cultural norms of where you’re traveling to. Is consuming alcohol considered polite? Should you present your host with a bottle of liquor? Is it more appropriate to order wine than beer? Also remember – if someone buys you a drink while you’re “out on the town,” make sure you reciprocate and buy them one back.
If you start feeling like you’re getting a little too warm and fuzzy, stop drinking. As a business professional, you don’t want to be associated with “that time you made a pass at the boss’s wife” or “that time you fell over the dessert table.” It’s never rude to turn down the offer for another drink.
And whatever you do – don’t order shots.