Tis the Season - to Imbibe or not to? by Lisa Goldstein
Waiter: Would monsieur care for another bottle of Chateau Latour? Navin: Ah yes, but no more 1966. Let’s splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you've got - this year! No more of this old stuff. Steve Martin/ The Jerk
With the holidays quickly approaching, the subject of alcohol and client relationships warrants a discussion. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or a teetotaler, developing business relationships frequently involves networking at cocktail parties, or dining at restaurants where alcohol is served. Old school Philadelphia Rainmakers still close many deals over three martini lunches at The Palm. I am not suggesting that this is a style that works for everyone, however, as a young rainmaker, navigating the rules of social drinking can be critical to business development.
The Lunch/Dinner Meeting
You are hosting a prospective client. The waiter hands you a wine list with the menu. You don’t know the first thing about wine, and you don’t even feel like drinking. What should you do?
The first thing to remember about business entertainment is that the purpose of a business meeting is to make your guest feel comfortable with you. Therefore, you should let your guest take the lead. Offer the wine list to the guest. If the guest would like to order wine, join your guest. Even if you are not going to drink the glass, a sip of wine will make your guest more comfortable. The same principal goes for any drink. When the waiter takes the drink order, allow your guest to order first.
Other rules of thumb are: 1. Never consume more alcohol than your guest. 2. You don’t need to follow your guest’s lead beverage for beverage.
The Cocktail Party
Some holiday parties and networking events still involve open bars. This is a situation where excessive drinking can occur. After all, a few cocktails can take the pain away from talking to strangers, or people whom you don’t know that well.
Remember, the purpose of the event is business. Even if you like to down a few socially, you need to keep your wits about you during the event.
Another problem that can arise at cocktail parties is inappropriate alcohol related behavior by clients or prospective clients. From a rainmaking perspective, your goal is to make your clients comfortable. If an inappropriate comment is made, ignore it and change the subject. If a prospect makes an inappropriate comment, it depends how egregious the comment was. The beauty of rainmaking is that you get to choose your clients. You can always walk away.
I hope this article helps you make rain this holiday season. The bottom line is that social events offer an opportunity to get to know your clients and prospects better, and build relationships. Cheers!