These days, it’s all about networking. If you’ve been to one of our Women’s Advancement Compact community events, you’ve surely noticed that networking is half the picture. We even hold events that give instruction on networking. But until now, there’s one aspect of networking that I haven’t touched upon, and it’s ironic, since it involves what Goldie’s Table Matters was designed to address: Food and Beverage. In other words, what do you do when you’re attending an event during dinnertime and there are snacks to nosh on? Alcoholic beverages to imbibe? Some people just say “no” and stay away from the food and drinks altogether. After all, it’s challenging enough to dine strategically at a business meal…and that’s a sit-down setting. Take the chair, table, and server out of the equation, confine the food and drink stations to the other end of the room, and the challenge of eating while chatting increases profoundly. But often, like at our WAC events, the food and wines are amazing, rendering resistance futile. Read on to discover my very best tips for snack and beverage management at a networking event, and learn to become a suave master of polite indulgence. Bon appétit!
The Nuance Of Noshing
-Hold all food or beverage in your left hand, keeping your right hand available for shaking hands and exchanging business cards. And yes, as you may have concluded, this means you’ll have to strongly consider juggling food and drink at once.
-Ideally, arrange for yourself a small plate of snacks which can be eaten without utensils. Don’t forget that napkin.
-Always have a cocktail napkin around your collins glass or beer bottle, especially during the warmer months. As humidity makes hair frizz, it also creates condensation on cold beverage containers, causing them to slip from your hand!
-Practice holding your wine glass by the stem instead of the bowl. Not only is this the proper use of the stem, it will magically transform the glass into a handy shelf to rest your hors d’oeuvre plate upon.
-Take caution with greasy hors d’oeuvres like crab cakes, egg rolls and sliders. They may be a bigger commitment to eat, and the grease they leave on your fingers will make those dewy drink containers even more slippery.
-Hors d’oeuvres that are wrapped in lettuce or flaky pastry can prove awkward to eat. Stick to skewered treats like scallops, or vegetables.
-Not all skewered snacks are easy to eat. Sometimes chicken and beef on a stick can be a challenge to gracefully get off the skewer.
-One-bite hors d’oeuvres are ideal, like hummus on a pita chip or lamb chops (with a cocktail napkin around the bone, of course).
-Have a plan in place for depositing skewers/toothpicks after use.
-To serve yourself from a bowl of nuts, use a spoon!
-Don’t you dare double-dip!!!!
Concerning The Effects of Alcohol
It might come as no surprise that our brains aren’t used to the effects of drinking alcohol in a workplace situation. In my blog post about the office holiday party, I first wrote about how the brain science of alcoholic consumption around colleagues is a whole different ballgame than drinking socially; I can’t stress enough how important it is to avoid “tying one on” at networking events as well. Ladies especially: our bodies process alcohol much faster and more acutely than men’s. Studies indicate that a combination of factors, including our smaller size, higher proportion of body fat, and our lower level of dehydrogenase enzymes for processing alcohol contribute to our substantially-inferior capacity for staying sober after just one drink. My best advice for networking: if you’re going to have a drink, use the beverage more as a social prop, and don’t necessarily finish it.