When at a networking event with alcohol available, each of us struggles with how much to drink.
As a rule I tend not to drink around people I don’t know. Maybe it’s a single girl security issue, and maybe it’s my knowledge that I’m a bad driver to begin with. Either way I rarely drink more than one drink if I don’t know that someone’s around who has my back. This is one of the ways I save money while traveling also. When traveling on a budget, alcohol is not a necessity.
But what about if you are there with people who you trust enough to make sure you get home safe? I say MODERATION!
In How to Become CEO: The Rules of Rising to the Top of Any Organization, Jeffrey Fox mentions the importance of avoiding being under the influence in front of business contacts, but takes it to another level. He has a whole chapter (XII) titled “Skip All Office Parties” which maybe a little extreme, but drives home the point. It’s important to keep business contacts as business contacts when you can.
That being said, a very important part of today’s socializing in business surrounds alcohol. Therefore, when networking, don’t avoid all bars, you’ll have very few events to attend. Simply, control yourself and your drinking at the bar. A VP level executive I know doesn’t drink at all, and it doesn’t stop him from joining contacts at bars, he just has soda. I’m not sure if it’s an LA thing, with all of the AA meetings available, but no one judges you for saying you don’t drink.
If you’re actually going to have a drink, how much should you drink? I took a Twitter poll and over 70% of respondents said they have less than 3 drinks at networking events. That seems like a good policy, most people can handle 2 drinks without getting sloshed, obnoxious, or loosing control. You also won’t have to have an embarrassing conversation with someone you’ve just met about how you are getting home.
Here are some tips for keeping the number of drinks low:
1) Pay in cash. Opening a tab is nice when you’re treating others to drinks, but paying in cash will limit the number of drinks you’ll imbibe. If you really want to buy someone a drink, you can always pull out the plastic and close out immediately.
2) Drive to the event. Most adults are smart enough to not want to wreck their vehicles (it’s often the first or second biggest investment people have). If you drive, you’ll be easily able to refuse additional drinks by saying, “I’m driving.” Peer pressure tends to fold when you’re actually being responsible and logical. In LA a DUI is a right of passage that most of us would prefer to avoid.
3) Drink slowly. This should be a no brainer, but if you drink slowly not only will you not need another drink faster, but the ice will melt a bit and the watered down beverage will help you avoid drunkenness.
4) Have plans. Whether it’s dinner later that night, or an early morning meeting have another event that you need to be alert for. This means that you’ll have an excuse to leave before the “party” really gets started, and a reason to self-regulate on not getting wasted.
If you have drinken a lot unexpectedly, here are some things that will make this better:
1) Taxis. In some cities these are harder to find, have a taxi number in your cell phone to call when you need it.
2) Water. The feeling of being drunk is actually very associated with dehydration, alcohol has no hydrating effect on the body only the reverse. Drinking water will help sober you up and if you add a lime to it, no one will know you’re not having straight up gin or vodka.
3) Leave. Hop in a taxi, visit the ladies room, go home with the first co-worker you see leaving, or just walk outside. If you’re drunk, it’s better not to be seen or heard, because it’s always the person who you don’t want to see you under the influence that’s there. If you’re not there, they can’t see you.
4) Eat Something. You should have done this before you started drinking, but even if you have, eat some more! Don’t scarf down all the appetizers in site, but grab a few crackers or pretzels they’ll help absorb some of the alcohol away from your liver and give you energy to keep moving… out the door.
Got any tips???
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