How to Attend a Business Dinner Without Ruining Your Career

Business dinners can be tricky situations. You want to look as poised and professional as possible, but you also want to show that you’re a person with an interesting personality. But when it comes to drinking alcohol during a business dinner, you’ll want to be careful. Unsurprisingly, drinking makes it difficult for people to think properly and make rational decisions. When you’re at a business dinner, you’re basically still on the job, so you want to maintain your professional image. Check out these five steps on how to ensure that you don’t end up having too many drinks during a business dinner and why having these drinks could have a negative effect on your career.

See also: How to Master Business Dinners

1. Make Sure to Eat

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, something that definitely influences the impact of alcohol is whether you eat while drinking or not. So, make sure to eat something during your business dinner. We often get nervous about eating a big meal in front of others, especially if it’s someone we deem important like our colleagues or our managers. Even if you have just a few appetizers, that’s still okay. Just make sure to eat something with protein, whether it’s chicken satay or shrimp cocktail. Without food in your stomach to absorb the alcohol, it will go straight to your head. This could result in you saying something you’ll regret as alcohol tends to lower our ability to stop ourselves from saying what we really want to say. It wouldn’t be the best idea, for example, to drink on an empty stomach and wind up insulting your boss.

2. Eat Before You Drink

The recommended amount of drinks for females per day is only one, while males can have up to two. However, as long as you only have two drinks, you should be fine. Keep in mind that business dinners are rarely short; you’ll therefore be eating and drinking over a long period of time, so make sure to spread out your alcohol intake throughout the evening. You never want to go beyond your recommended limit at a business dinner because even if your co-workers are drinking a lot, you should aim to stay completely professional. You should by all means avoid waking up the following day with no memory of the night before. Drinking with friends at a weekend party is not the same as drinking at a business dinner. It is definitely not an occasion for drunken behavior.

3. Bear in Mind How Much You Can Take

If you’re someone who feels tipsy after just one cocktail, you ought to keep that in mind. Different people have different levels of alcohol tolerance. While some can drink hard liquor with no problems, others cannot take quite that much. Make sure you know how much you can withstand before you start drinking. Make sure that you know if you are a two-glasses-of-wine type or a two-shots-of-whiskey kind of person.

4. Hydrate

You don’t want to be the person gulping down alcohol at the business dinner. Even if you stick to the recommended two drinks, you should still drink a few glasses of water throughout the evening. It will also look more professional than constantly holding an alcoholic beverage in your hand. Whether you’re with colleagues that have known you for years or you’re meeting with potential clients, you don’t want to be remembered as the employee who always seems to have a drink in their hand. Switch to water every 15 minutes or so and you will come out on top.

5. Stay Alert to Everything

Just because you can’t consume more than two glasses of wine or two beers during the course of a business dinner doesn’t mean your client can’t or won’t. Make sure you know how they are getting home if you suspect they’ve had a few too many, but do so in a polite, respectful manner that doesn’t let them know that you think they seem drunk. Call them a cab or a town car to ensure they get home safely. You want to be alert and ready for any possible issues that come up, which is another reason why it’s not a good idea to drink too much when on the job.

See also: Don’t Order the Vegetarian Option at a Business Dinner – Here’s Why!

Follow these five steps to avoid overindulging in alcohol during a business dinner and it will be a success. The goal is to behave the same as you would during office hours and not to think that this is a social occasion.

Let us know if you’ve ever had one too many at a business dinner in the comments section below, and how you dealt with it.