Doing business over drinks is a great way to socialize in a relaxed and informal setting. Many also feel this style of meeting builds camaraderie and allows people to communicate more honestly so both parties can get to know each other. A growing number of venues across the country have started to offer tailored networking events for business professionals to connect in a comfortable setting, although it’s important to go over some key rules before you attend to get the most benefit. If you’re just launching a new business and don’t have business cards yet, make sure you get a 48 hour print job from a high quality provider so you’ll have them available to pass out.

Follow these tips to make the most of your bar networking.

networking event

by Rick Chung on Flickr

Drinking as a Networking Tool

Having a couple of drinks over business definitely loosens inhibitions although it can also be a good conversation starter. You’ll probably notice your choice of wine is a great ice-breaker to get discussion going so a working knowledge of wine can work in your favor to give the impression that you’re well-rounded.

Choose the Best Location

You also want to select a bar that caters to business meetings and networking opportunities. If you’re planning to meet clients over a drink, make sure you select a bar with courteous and attentive staff. This will improve the experience for your client and also reflect well on you. Also, constantly flagging down a server can easily detract from the conversation and ruin the deal. The location should also have appropriate lighting that’s bright enough to see any paperwork but not distracting. If the bar doesn’t specifically cater to business networking, at least make sure it’s a location you’re familiar with.

Remember Moderation

Always order a weak drink with soda at a bar when you’re discussing business or limit the amount of wine you drink. If you arrive early for the meeting, resist the urge to have a few drinks before your client arrives and do your best to drink at about the same rate as the client, unless they are drinking too much. Nothing will ruin a networking opportunity or meeting faster than getting inebriated before business is even discussed.

Get to Business Quickly

Remember, the location can easily distract you from your purpose: networking and connecting with clients. To get to the point, focus on business and some casual conversion and don’t make the bar or drinking the topic. Arrive early and get to business quicker than your client expects and wrap everything up rather quickly. This puts you in control and gives the impression that you’re assertive.

Don’t Forget Your Business Card!

While getting drunk at the bar is definitely bad for business, there is no bigger mistake than forgetting your business card if you’re at a networking event. Create a good impression with plenty of eye contact and good posture and always remember to give a professional business card to every new contact you make. Forget your card? Your contacts will quickly forget you as well. Once you’ve made an impression it’s important to leave them with a way to remember you and get in touch. Don’t attend networking events only to pass up your best opportunity to connect with new clients!