The Secret to Successful Networking: Beer
This week, Rosalie Marcus touched upon three important steps in the networking dance that we all do in business and in everyday life. I wanted to add a fourth, and to my mind integral, component to the mix. The most important part of networking is beer.
We all know that hands are shaken and contracts are signed over dinner and drinks. Sports games and concerts are communal experiences shared by strangers. Bars are casual environments where people are more relaxed and open to conversation. All of these are situations where people who would otherwise never meet are encouraged to talk, and beer plays a significant role in those interactions.
Let me throw a few recent examples at you. My girlfriend Vanessa and I were on vacation in Naples, Fla. last month. Sitting in a bar on St. Patrick's Day, I asked a gentleman sitting next to me where he got his green beer. He and his wife, he said, brought green food coloring with them and were adding it to people's drinks when they weren't paying attention; I liked the guy immediately. He told me about a book he had written, linking extroverted behavior to success in business, and we got to the inevitable "so, what do you do" part of the conversation. It turns out he started a little company back in the '70s that you may have heard of: Chuck E. Cheese. My new friend Gene Landrum was the company's first president and has since become a prolific writer, and he'll be contributing a few articles about sales and business for you to read soon.
Back in Philly the following week at one of our local spots, Vanessa and I are seated next to another couple, Peter and Fran, who are sampling multiple different beers. I make a suggestion for something to try, which lead to a conversation about beer and food and, unexpectedly, the apparel industry. He knew a ton about manufacture, sales, sourcing and more, which made sense when I learned that Peter Capolino is the founder of sport clothing brand Mitchell & Ness, which sells officially licensed vintage jerseys and jackets for the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL. He had a wealth of information that I'm hoping to turn into articles in the future.
It's a scientific fact: Beer makes networking happen. You never know who you'll meet when you're out at a bar, but you'll never meet them if you're not there. And as Hunter S. Thompson wrote, "Good people drink good beer," so you know you'll be in good company. If you've got a story of a chance encounter like one of these, I'd love to hear it. Leave it in the comments below and tell us how beer has helped in your networking.
Drink more beer. Meet interesting people.