Business Unplugged: What to, and How to Drink to Seal a Deal

“Whiskey is liquid sunshine”, rightly expressed the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. This popular liquor has made its way to bar networking. A few shots of whiskey while discussing business can dismiss inhibitions and help in initiating a conversation among two strangers. Breaking the ice will no longer seem impossible. More so, being equipped with a working knowledge of whiskies will give the client an impression that you are well-rounded.

Factors to bear in mind

If you have plans of meeting clients in a bar, select one with courteous and attentive staff. Make sure that there is adequate lighting so that it is easy to carry out paperwork. Do not let the bar environment affect your concentration. If you are not careful, the music and drinks may distract you. Engaging in business talks with clients over drinks is common in the business world, but when it involves whiskey, its best to use caution and acquaint oneself with the drinking etiquettes. Drinking at business meals has changed in manifold ways over the last few years. In the 70’s a business lunch was usually a three-martini lunch. Compared to the present times, alcohol consumption levels were much higher. These days it is considered polite to order a drink only if your client is ordering one. It’s best to avoid a bar you frequent often, if you are aiming at establishing a camaraderie with a prospective client, without friendly interlopers popping up.  

Talking business over Whiskey

When you are discussing business deals over whiskey, do not deviate from the main focus of the meeting. Discuss the pitch as if you were in office. Casual conversations are acceptable as long as you do not turn the discussion towards the bar or drinking. Avoid discussing dislikes with the client, because you would not want him to remember you for your negative energy. That will not serve the purpose of meeting the client. As a rule you should ensure that you arrive early, review the drinks and menu, and wrap the meeting quickly, without allowing it to linger on. If you want to win the client over, show respect towards those who work in the bar and place your orders politely.

Getting into the spirit

As you discuss the business deal and place the order for whiskey, stay away from the strong ones. You can make an impression by ordering Macallan 12 or Macallan 18, two classic offerings from well-known Scotch distilleries which pair flawlessly with work-related meal. Just like Scotch, bourbon is also classic and a good option for CEOs who want to finalize business deals over dinner and drinks.

Drinking Etiquettes

Interestingly, in the Japanese society it is considered polite to keep drinking till the client continues to consume liquor. While placing the order, allow the client to dictate, especially if he is well-informed about whiskeys. After years of client management, you must already be aware that nothing pleases a client more than being able to take charge. You will gain nothing by trying to assert and disusing your wealth of knowledge. Avoid discussing your know-how about whiskey with the bartender. Place the order promptly without hesitation and size up the situation with the king of brown spirits.

Dos and Don’ts

While drinking maintain a good posture and engage in plenty of eye contact. End of the day you want the client to trust and rely on you and consider you worthwhile of doing business together. In the course of the meeting, maintain your professionalism and drink moderately. By over indulging you may run the risk of making the wrong judgment or speaking irrelevant things which may make you lose a potential client.  During business meetings one is expected to remain sober and be clear in the head. Slurry speech and inappropriate jokes may ruin chances of a lucrative business deal or your chances of doing business with the client in future. It may lead to loss of credibility and respect. As a rule of thumb, its best to stick to a couple of drinks and aim for a relationship which goes beyond the deal. Drink slower than your guest and be alert to refill the glass on time. Do not attempt to eat and drink simultaneously. When the appetizers are served, eat sparingly and limit yourself to one drink. After the deal is finalized, raising a glass to toast is a sign of celebration. While toasting maintain eye contact.

A little polish is all you need to impress the client. Although discussing business over whiskey can be a little tricky, by doing your homework about the client and following the etiquettes, you will survive the business meal and successfully seal the deal.