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The Cocktail You Shouldn't Mix: Networking and Booze

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Networking and booze go together like peanut butter and banana. I cannot remember a networking event that did not have alcohol. But, here's a headline: The next time I go to a networking event, I'm going to make a point to skip the booze.

Related: 15 Rules for Talking Business Over Drinks

This sudden resolution stems from Tim Ferris. Now, I love Tim Ferriss. And those of you who haven't already become acquainted with his work should make a point of doing just that.

Ferris is a great interviewer. And I've personally listened to all of his podcasts; I also get his weekly newsletter “Five Bullet Friday," and have always found great takeaways from his material. Further, Ferriss' guests are amazing, and most (if not all) of his world/business/ethical/etc. opinions and curiosity remind me of the person I want to be.  

But today's podcast was different.

First, a word about myself: I'm a 41-year-old entrepreneur. I really like to wind down a stressful week with a gin and tonic and some meat on the grill. Frankly, the only thing even better is to enjoy that cocktail and barbeque at my house with my family and best friends around. The alcohol is enabling. It disarms the stress and noise I've experienced from past week, and it helps me relax.

The conversation flows, and with my best friends, I find that the alcohol-induced liberation and freedom are the best thing about having a few drinks with good friends. In short, I can finally be myself. I don’t have to guard my opinions. I don’t have to guard my speech. And, within reason, I can act like an idiot (myself). As a business owner, I never get to act like an idiot, so doing so is liberating.

Unfortunately, maybe twice a year, I drink more than I had intended, and in the wrong environment (or expected environment). Inevitably, I say something stupid and the next morning feel almost instant guilt.

I was reminded this morning that not everyone wants to see me become the idiot I am. In truth, I have tons of business “friends," but very few truly good friends; and even with those good friends, I am not sure all of them appreciate my idiot nature. Like many business owners, I am not a normal person, and I must constantly be mindful of my actions and position.

Which brings us back to Tim Ferriss. Ferriss’ recent podcast had him updating products and ideas. There was great initial back and forth, and the ideas were solid. However, about halfway through I noticed a silliness coming through tinged with sarcasm; and my impression was that Ferriss was dropping his guard.

Why? I immediately recognized the reason behind the tactical slip (it was the alcohol). In fact, Ferriss and his guest had been drinking wine throughout the podcast and the conversation actually descended into a joke about “dick pics.” Now, full disclosure: I was laughing and thought the joke was pretty hilarious. But then I thought about other listeners who might not get the reference or might not think it was funny.

Related: Headed to Asia for Business? Pack These Networking Tips

Certainly, Ferriss is not in the business of appeasing everyone or being "politically correct." Ferriss knows his audience, and I am sure most (if not all) of them were laughing just as hard as I was. However, what if they weren’t? Was his momentary lapse worth it? Might it cost him a sponsor? How about the loyalty of a respected listener/follower?

We all take risks in business. But, personally, I want to take conscious risks, not accidental ones. And, sometimes when I drink, I am not fully present or aware of the implications of my buzzed/drunk prognostications. Again, I am always going to take risks in business. That is part of the game. 

However, this day, Ferriss' juvenile moment was a subtle reminder that I myself want to be fully present and conscious. I don’t want to accidentally alienate a good business opportunity just because I want to have a couple of drinks in a business setting.

Listening to Ferriss was a good reminder for me to be careful with my words at work, and drink only in a safe place.

Related: 9 Major Networking No-No's

Maybe you should do the same.

Matt Garrett

Written By

Matt Garrett is chief executive of TGG Accounting, a managerial accounting firm based in San Diego, specializing in serving small to mid-sized businesses.