CHEERS! Does Alcohol Mix with Business?
I consistently get asked about mixing wine or cocktails and business success. People want to know if it’s okay to have a glass of wine or cocktail when out with clients. Can doing so hurt or help you grow your business? In other words, is it okay to say “Cheers” when socializing with clients? Care to guess what the answer is?
When my first book was published, “The Art of the Business Lunch – Building Relationships Between 12 and 2” (Career Press), this question captured the imagination of every news outlet. In fact, countless publications and radio stations wanted to interview me … from CNN to Newsweek to Fox to the BBC! Everyone wanted to know if it was okay to mix alcohol with business. Is it okay to have a cocktail or a glass of wine when out with clients?
What do you think? If you ask around at your office, you’re likely to get as many “NEVER!” answers as “Sure … why not?” responses. I believe some of the diversity of the answers comes from an individual’s upbringing. Those whose parents were more conservative socially probably raised their kids to drink in moderation (if at all) and to never drink when out with “important people.” These parents believe it’s too easy for alcohol to make you behave in a sloppy or thoughtless manner.
Still, others wouldn’t give it a second thought.
The challenge becomes greater, though, when it comes to mixing alcohol with business. What’s correct when it comes to drinking when out with clients? Your business success may depend on your being able to have a drink or two without getting drunk. (HINT: Eat something first. It should help keep the alcohol from hitting you too hard, especially as it would on an empty stomach.) For some people, the difference between having a drink and getting drunk is a hard line to define or respect. What if you’re “on the wagon” for one reason or another? What if drinking is against your religious beliefs? Can you still entertain and socialize with your clients who want to have a drink during business hours or at client dinners? The biggest challenge for these people is how they can appease those clients who enjoy a glass of wine at lunch without joining them or having them drink alone. The solution is really easy. Simply bring a “wingman” – someone from your office who can join your client in a happy hour or lunchtime cocktail without having to compromise your own sobriety or your business success.
Cheers! Mixing Wine or Cocktails vs. Business Success
In “MAD MEN”, the hit TV show set in the 60’s, the advertising men (and eventually women) of Madison Avenue in NYC drank so much, I used to feel like I needed a nap just watching them get through their 3-martini lunches! Talk about mixing wine and cocktails with business success! Back at the office, they’d hit the bottle even harder, having one cocktail after another. It’s a wonder any work got done at all. The execs had well-stocked bar carts in their offices. One season, one of the execs had reached his breaking point. He could no longer keep up with clients without becoming plastered. The ad agency fired him for getting drunk. Talk about a fine line…. you had to be able to drink to excess, but still keep your act together. I am grateful that times have changed! Yet, the question remains:
“Is it okay to have a cocktail or a glass of wine when out with clients?”
As a contributor to “Chicken Soup for the Wine Lover’s Soul”, I say, “Of course it’s okay.” I also understand it’s not for everyone. So, in “The Art of the Business Lunch,” I offer many work-arounds for NOT drinking with clients without them even noticing. I knew which of my clients enjoyed a glass of wine, which would never drink at lunch, which liked dessert, and even which clients loved to stop in the casino to play a little on the slot machines on their way back to work. Knowing my clients and their preferences, then catering to them (within reason), helped me to close more 6-figure deals than I can remember. In fact, breaking bread with clients helped me to increase my sales by more than 2,000%!
I hope you will take advantage of the more than 400 breakfast, lunch, dinner, and networking opportunities that exist every year. You won’t believe how fast you can grow your business once you understand how powerful socializing can be when it comes to building your business success!