We catered a lot of cocktail receptions throughout the years. But they really aren’t cocktail receptions any longer; they are “networking receptions”. And the main goal of these events is to… you guessed it…network.
But why is it then we see people networking with a drink in one hand and a plate of food in the other? Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people eat at these receptions, but that is not the main reason you are at this event. And if you have both of your hands full, how are you going to shake hands, give a business card to a prospect, or take notes?
Or, you could do what a colleague did at a networking event recently with a friend of mine at an event recently. She was networking at a cocktail reception prior to a very large and important business dinner that was attended by close to 1,000 business people. She was introduced to someone for the first time at this reception and this person proceeded to hand my friend her plate of food. Not to eat, mind you. No, only to hold for her so that she could network and shake hands with other guests. I should also mention that this person had a drink in her other hand.
What would you do in this situation? Besides making a mental note of who this person was and who she worked for, she quietly excused herself from this person and the conversation and mentioned that she had another person to talk to. Now, both you & I know she really didn’t have anyone to talk to, but she was so surprised and overwhelmed by the behavior of someone she never met before that she had to get out of that conversation.
Her first thought? “How rude, and why would you have both of your hands filled at a reception like this? “ I couldn’t agree more and that is the point to this story.
If you are going to a networking reception, then please go there first and foremost to network. You can still eat and drink (and as a former caterer, I would highly recommend that you do that). But keep one hand free, preferably the one you use to shake hands or pass out business cards (by the way, that is your right hand, as no one shakes hands with their left hand: in case you were wondering).
I think for the most part, we do a pretty good job with this etiquette tip. I admit, I don’t see too many people “two-fisting” it with their food and drink (two fisting it with drinks is for another story, however). I will also say that if you are “two-fisting” it, not only does your breath smell of alcohol (which could turn people off), but you may be putting your brand in jeopardy due to you behavior.
If you do have both hands full, please try to find a table to set your plates down so that you can network with the other guests. Otherwise you are telling your guests that the plate of food and drink is more important to you than your possible business or friendship.
Bob Pacanovsky is a Keynote,Conference, and Corporate Speaker and Trainer who works with companies and organizations to develop the Black Tie Experience—creating an impression that LASTS through leadership, service, actions, and behaviors.
To learn more, contact Bob Pacanovsky: Call (330) 352-6084 or email Bob@BobPacanovsky.com.