The question is often asked, “Will this upcoming networking event be beneficial for me and for our firm?” In my opinion, the answer is yes. I know the feeling of being exhausted from having three or more scheduled meetings with clients all over town, the office phone and cell phone both ringing off their hooks throughout the day and all you want to do is end your day in the Chick-Fil-A drive through and order a large diet lemonade. That’s a regular scenario for me. But when you get the opportunity to meet with reporters or have a couple of after-work drinks with new business contacts, networking after work isn’t that bad and shouldn’t be dreaded because one person you meet could turn into a major benefit to your company.
There are exceptions to not attend these events, but you should always make the attempt to say yes. A good PR professional uses this as an opportunity to pitch new ideas and to show their mastery of the public relations mission of their company. You should approach these drinks and deals in a kind of Mad Men-esque style.
The key to business after hours is in finding the balance of taking care of business without it seeming like work. In other words, be able to juggle PR and a social encounter while conducting work affairs at the same time.
Five Tips to Succeeding at Making PR Business after Hours Work:
- Don’t let your mouth go.
After a little alcohol, you might let down your guard and start talking about situations or people (even people you work with) in a negative way. When the conversation turns to gossip, it’s best to excuse yourself.
- Keep it classy.
For both girls and guys, an after-work happy hour doesn’t mean fair game to flirt or say inappropriate remarks about an individual you work with at work or outside of work. I suggest not having more than two drinks.
- Participate, even if you choose not to drink.
You can definitely opt out of drinking for whatever reason, but make an effort so that those around you to feel comfortable having a drink by saying, “I’ll enjoy my gin and tonic without the gin!” or something else clever to take the edge off.
- You can have fun, but that’s not your primary objective.
Never make the mistake of thinking a happy hour of any kind related to work is your chance to “let loose” outside of the office. Enjoy yourself, but don’t treat it like a get together with your girlfriends or buddies. Everyone is observing you, so be on your best behavior.
5. Avoid extending the “happy hour” to another bar.
This goes for every employee at any company. You don’t want to be the talk around the water cooler about your table dancing routine or head banging to a rock song that was cool in the ‘80s. Just say no.