The Marketeer

The Case for Drinking

BombayAs the Sales Kickoff continues I am again reminded of the value of drinking. Social media does an excellent job at connecting people who have similar interests, but ultimately there’s no substitute for face-to-face conversation. The degree and depth of conversation can be accelerated rapidly with some social lubricant.

I also saw this in effect last night at the Blogger Dinner EMC sponsored. The good news is that Len mentioned that this would be a quarterly event so that will be perfect come January when the holiday rush is over and we are trapped in the cold and dark.

The key to drinking though, is to drink, yet never get drunk. Excessive drinking is a career limiting maneuver (or worse – like that guy in your town who has to ride that crappy bicycle to work).

For the best advice in this arena I highly recommend Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and some of their pointers on how to party without getting in trouble. Many of their points are actually high level ninja tactics, most often centered around misdirection.

If you are not up to these advanced tactics, here are a few simple principles to get you started:

  1. Make sure everyone is drinking more than you are. This often requires buying many rounds, but it keeps you at the advantage. You’d think that this could be dangerous and expensive with sales guys, but that’s not the case at all – I’ve never met a good sales guy who didn’t get exceptionally generous after the first round.
  2. Always hold a half full drink – I’ve been drinking professionally for years and this is still very difficult for me. But the key is to have enough gone so that nobody asks “What’s wrong with your drink” but enough left so you’re not asked for a refill. The point here is not to drink nervously, as you chat, you may be hitting your drink and not really realizing it. The key to get around this is eat or, if you are a slob like me that will spill food on yourself –
  3. Lose your drink – This is a Frank and Dean classic, and is critical if you attain a position of power. People will be glad for the opportunity to buy you a drink, so you’re just making that happen, and still not drinking.
  4. Rescue detail – This is what you train for – nothing will cement your reputation better than getting a VP out of a Mexican Prison, getting the camera with career limiting photographs to dispose of them, or just making sure the team gets home alive.

I’ll be covering more advanced tactics at Podcamp Boston 2 next weekend, please say hello. The first drink is on me.

13 replies on “The Case for Drinking”

As a semi-pro drinker myself, a few other tips that I might offer:

* Stick to clear drinks on the rocks if you can tolerate them. Very easy to pass back a half-gone drink and dismiss it as “just melted ice” when the next round comes rather than having two drinks sitting in front of you, tossing back the rest of the first one, or looking odd by giving the server/bartender a half-consumed beverage

* Get a tonic/soda on the rocks with lime. Nobody will know it isn’t alcoholic if they don’t watch you order it.

* Make friends with the bartender so you get less potent drinks at your own request.

* If faced with shots, use an old bartender’s trick: pretend to have a beer chaser (when bartenders do this when having a shot with a customer, they are really just spitting the shot back into a half-empty beer bottle)

* If you’re at a business dinner, make sure you drink a glass of water for every glass of wine/beer/cocktail/etc. Yes, you’ll look like you have a bladder problem as you head to the restroom regularly, but it will slow you down and the restroom visits also give you a chance to take a break and collect your wits so you don’t overdo it (as you might if you just hang with your associates at the table constantly sipping)

* Don’t be afraid to pass back a non-empty bottle of wine at the end of dinner. Especially if you are a regular at the restaurant you are visiting, your goodwill shall be appreciated.

Coming from a long line of Irish Alcoholics I just have to say this is blasphemy. A much more beneficial post might be tactics on finding your car in the morning, or tactful ways to find out the name of the person sleeping next to you! Or handling no sleep and a hangover and still making to the general session! Get real Wall. Jesus, Mary and J. I need a drink after this post.

Mike – yes, that’s a good point that I take for granted being a Boston-area resident: laws here don’t apply to the Irish.

Chip – good list, that reminds me of another. Get to the bar early and tip the bartender 4x more than usual (or more than the biggest tipper in the room). They need to notice you, that way if things get thick or weird they will help you out.

“I’ve been drinking professionally for years…,” truer words have never been spoken!

As much as people will think this is awkward, it is the truth – you need to be fully prepared for what you do at a networking event, and drinking is one of them. I would add 2 things – hold your drink in your left hand (so you’re not shaking with a cold hand) and bring a small bottle of spring water. Why the latter? At one networking event I went to here in Chicago the bar was jammed, and getting a drink was nearly impossible. As I was talking a lot, my mouth went dry – not good.


I’ll have to do a little thinking around this topic, because I’m pretty sure the rules that women use are a little different. I do implement the buddy-system early, even when I don’t know a soul.

Impressions make or break you in marketing and creative services because the community is so small. As you said, the goal is to be seen as one of the gang without making waves WHILE being generous.

I love the idea of arriving early. Nothing prepares you more for an evening than a good scouting trip. You’d do the same thing for a job interview – e.g. find the building before the day you have to arrive…why wouldn’t you scout the area before you’re meeting with prospective important people?

The spitting the shot in the bottle trick is tough because of the loud “Yargghs” that are shared when people slam the shot glass down, but the rest seems doable.

BTW – If there’s a tasty Hefeweizen at the Seaport, I’ll try to find you before 200 others get to you John.

Further, I’ve decided not to bring give-aways this year. I think Podcamp is going to be a great value for the info offered and the relationships I should be able to initiate.

Thanks for your hard work – and best to your coffee cohort – in putting this event together.

Alyssa – I’d be interested in hearing that, from the male side there’s no difference – regardless of sex, others are more open when they drink. One of the major differences I know if is that many women I used to know would never pay for drinks – impossible for a guy under most situations.

Jeff – I agree with the scouting trip, but another cardinal rule of the Rat Pack is arrive late and leave early – no exceptions.

My drinking rule: Scotch and Water, but not at the same time.
i.e., hydrate.
I disagree about being discreet ordering tonic or seltzer. No shame in hydrating between rounds (the better to be last person standing) or not drinking at all).

Yes, I too have given this way to much thought

Very interesting topic, with PodCamp on the horizon. As someone who thoroughly enjoys networking over beverages, I can chime in from the women’s point of view:

* Drinking with men is hard. Because men metabolize differently (that is, women get drunk quicker), and they are “impressed” when a woman can “keep up” with them.

* Doug is right, hydration is key, and I think this is especially true for women.

* Other women can be just as hard to drink with as men, in terms of a “keeping up” standpoint, and I think we’re more susceptible to the pressure factor in social drinking.

* Not to sound all 19th century or anything, but we women have our “virtues” to protect. That is, don’t, don’t, don’t, get drunk and make out with a colleague. Don’t make out with anyone. This isn’t college, and no one wants to see that. Learn from Elaine Benes.

My advice is similar to yours; professional drinking situations can be fun and an opportunity to get to know your contacts in another setting, so long as no one pukes on anyone’s shoes or makes a pass at anyone’s wife. And if you find yourself a bit tiddly, perhaps just find someone drunker than you and stand next to them, you’ll look good by comparison.


More advice from another woman–eat something either starchy or with some protein in it before you start drinking. (Personal favorites include cheese/nuts, that sort of thing.) The frightful thing about happy hours and the like is that you are usually on a near-empty tummy, and that’s when the beverages go straight to your noggin.

Ah yes, alcohol. The lubricant to social intercourse. Excellent points, Mr. Wall. In certain literary circles I’ve run in, we always admire the person who still can be the wittiest after 5 rounds. The same clearly applies to business.

I’ll leave with these words from Dorothy Parker, one of the original members of the legendary and almost constantly soused Algonquin Round Table:
I love to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
Three, I’m under the table,
Four, I’m under the host.

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