Like any smart job seeker, you’ll look your most professional, with well-maintained and tasteful attire, every hair in place and shoes that pair style with comfort – you can’t network when your feet hurt.
However, you may have overlooked an important accessory that can send even more signals than your wardrobe: the drink in your hand can say a lot about you, or even act as a serious barrier to effective networking.
Beer is a safe bet. It’s conventional, relaxed and has the right amount of “work-after-work” feeling to it.
Also, if you’re at an event for several hours, no one will begrudge you having more than one.
Tip: Be sure to ask for a glass (preferably not a plastic cup) and avoid anything with a lime wedge. You’re there to make connections, not pickle citrus fruit.
A martini perfectly captures the goal of a networking function: make a very strong impression in a very short time.
However, you may find it hard to close a promising conversation when you can’t find your business cards…or your wallet…or your shoes, for that matter.
Tip: While prefix-tinis (e.g., crantini, appletini) and other drinks served in martini glasses lack the obliterative power of the traditional martini, it’s best to steer clear of the conical glass entirely.
Since these drinks are small in size, it’s deceptively easy to wind up with a glass full of ice, which can be distracting, particularly if you find yourself in a crowd with no table in sight.
If this is your particular poison, ask for a watered-down one in a highball glass, not a squat rocks glass. You want to be sure your drink has staying power.
Tip: Seriously consider the breath-effects of particular mixed drinks. Rum-and-coke breath will make your “hello” sound an awful lot like “goodbye.”
Wine is the popular go-to drink for networking functions. You’ll avoid the bloated feeling that can come with beer, while radiating class and sophistication (sip, don’t gulp, junior).
White wine is always a safer bet, as red wine has a nasty reputation for staining: fabric, teeth, moral character, you name it.
Tip: If someone ahead of you orders the house wine, watch their reaction to the first sip. A pained grimace is a silent warning.
While there’s nothing wrong with a cocktail, networking bars are usually pretty rudimentary, and there’s often a line behind you.
Avoid anything that involves “construction.” This isn’t the moment to demonstrate your knowledge of mixology or argue with the bartender about how to make a Velvet Horseshoe.
Tip: Some networking socials have a special cocktail as part of a broader event theme. Keep your eyes peeled.
Though many find a drink helps them relax and ease into a casual event, it’s important to consider the various merits of water.
Water will not only be free at most networking events, it will help you ensure you keep a level head and stay hydrated for the all hand-shaking and card-swapping.
Tip: If you’re looking for something a little more lively, try club soda. It’s fizzy and fun, and it lacks the sugar content of regular sodas.
You’ll never know what small decisions can spark conversations, and which conversations could lead to great job opportunities. Something as small as a shared favourite drink could lead to big things. You can’t read minds, but you can avoid some obvious drink don’ts.