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Networking Business Development

Business Development Is More Fun with a Drink

By David Ackert on February, 27 2013

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David Ackert

Your business development mission boils down to this: deepen key relationships until they generate new work. And nothing deepens relationships faster than a shared drink. That’s why they serve alcohol at networking mixers. It provides liquid courage for the timid and fast camaraderie for the thirsty.

cocktail-6-800x800Apparently I’m not the only one who has researched this phenomenon. A group of graduate students at the University of Pittsburgh recently conducted a study of 720 participants who were divided into subgroups, and instructed to mingle. A subset was served alcoholic beverages. Results showed that alcohol “increased the frequency of ‘true’ smiles”. After the mingle, participants reported “greater social bonding” than non-drinking groups and were “more likely to have all three members stay involved in the discussion.” *

Here’s what you can learn from the University of Pittsburgh: instead of taking your referral source out for breakfast or lunch, suggest a happy hour cocktail. A shared drink is a much better forum for relationship building. You’ll let down your guard more easily (yes, that’s a good thing), you’ll laugh together more often, and you’ll experience better bonding. These are promising precursors to a productive connection.

But take this advice with a pinch of salt (and a bite of lime). It comes with a warning or two:

  1. Be mindful of the inference. “Let’s grab a drink” is also code for “let’s head back to my place afterwards,” so if you’re concerned about sending mixed signals, invite a few other people to join you.
  2. Don’t overdo it. The goal is not to get tipsy, but to meet in a relaxed environment where you can create better business relationships. Besides, no one will refer you once they see you sloshed.

*Ironically, the study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Authored by David Ackert

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