There comes a time in every career-minded individual’s life when they are faced with the prospect of meeting with clients during happy hour for a few drinks. In fact, while working at Platinum Rapid Funding Group, I am often asked to grab drinks with clients and colleagues. This is one area where it is important to consider proper etiquette because what you do during happy hour doesn’t stay at client happy hour. Here are a few points to consider when headed out for drinks with clients or prospective clients.
Professionalism is Essential
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you can enjoy a drink, whether alcoholic or not, with co-workers and clients without still being business forward. Be mindful of dressing professionally as well as maintaining proper topics of discussion.
Eat Before Happy Hour
If you are planning to indulge in a drink or two it is wise to have a snack before you leave the office. A snack bar, nuts or any other easy to take snack will do before you choose to drink on an empty stomach. The trip from business and professional to tipsy and overly talkative can be a short one if you have nothing in your stomach.
Take time to enjoy the drink and don’t rush through it headed for a second or perhaps third. This does not give the right impression to the client or your co-workers. Heavy drinking isn’t something that most clients are looking for in a professional they trust with their business.
Take care in what you choose to discuss during your work-related happy hour. Office gossip and trade secrets are best left off the discussion table when you are meeting with clients. In the same light, talking about their business is not forbidden in moderation. You want to be sure not to push the topic and look over-eager when discussing business. You also want to avoid topics that could get back to others such as plans to move on to another firm or company.
Make Your Own Choices
When meeting clients or co-workers for drinks don’t feel like you have to drink alcohol. Even if your boss or the others are having a drink, you don’t have to follow suit. While you want to participate whenever possible, and you should have a drink in your hand, fruit juice, seltzer water or some other drink is just as acceptable and shows you can make decisions.
When having a few drinks with a client, prospective client or co-worker, it is important to remember that the decisions you make can affect your job as well as your co-workers’ opinion of you and ultimately the client’s view of you and the company that you represent. The social skills that you present are vital to the way that any client or your boss might feel about your capabilities in the workplace. Think about how you want to be viewed by these individuals in your life and act accordingly. A true leader and trustworthy professional isn’t going to be the person who is stumbling out the door or to the restroom.