How to drink with your boss – and make it count

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  • After work drinks don't have to mean a thumping head on a Friday morning. As more and more women use after-hours networking opportunities to get ahead in business, we quizzed two experts on the dos and don'ts of drinking with your boss…

    While many savvy starters are turning to informal gatherings and evenings out to make progress in the office, it’s also littered with pitfalls. One glass of wine too many and you could put that promotion in jeopardy. So can you really make those cocktails count?

    ‘Meeting your boss or colleague for an after work drink can give you that special touch; chatting over a tipple allows you the chance to let your hair down and show your out-of-office more casual self,’ says Dana Gornitzki, Mistress of Manners from charm and etiquette tutors MIEN Magazine. ‘The key is to make it a civilised occasion, not one that turns sipping a glass of bubbly into buying rounds of shots and spinning out of control.

    ‘The most crucial step to a charm offensive is minding your manners. Simple things like fetching your boss a chair, offering drinks and excusing yourself when you leave to go to the bathroom are the kind of thing which are easily done and should come naturally, but make a real impact.’

    Corporate party planner from Late Night London, Emma Howe, agrees. ‘Nowadays the line between work and play has been blurred, with our leisure time being increasingly squeezed – it’s easy to see how an after-work drink is now turning into a full-blown night out.

    ‘But that doesn’t mean you should let loose like you do with your friends. Your manners, conversation and how you behave should be vastly different. There’s a reason why some of the biggest deals are done over drinks. People are more relaxed and more receptive to ideas and discussion.’

    Here are Emma’s top 5 tips for success…

    1. Leave a lasting impression
    Choose your moment and casually collar your boss before she leaves. Outline three ‘key messages’ you want her to remember on Monday. Whether it’s your commitment to being promoted or how much you enjoyed working on a certain project, sometimes casual comments on a Friday really hit home. Comments that demonstrate how passionate or dedicated you are will have more weight if made in a social setting – if you’re thinking about your career rather than cocktails, then you must be really keen.
    2. Be interesting, and interested
    Brainstorms or discussions in the office can be daunting and it’s sometimes hard to make your voice heard. Use the casual setting and dutch courage from a glass of wine to bounce ideas off your boss. There’s a reason why brainstorm rooms have beanbags! Social spaces can help with creativity and your boss will think you suggesting a light-hearted ideas session is really proactive.
    3. Know your limit
    If you’re feeling a bit giddy, drink water and grab a bag of crisps. Often Friday night drinks mean no dinner, so watch your booze intake and set a drink limit to stick to. Try and also keep a check on revealing personal information – you might think it’s just fun bonding with your boss, but upon sober reflection your boss might be left with the impression that you are one to keep an eye on.
    4. It’s not the place to think about your love life
    Drinks with work is never the right time to get with the cute barman! Come back next weekend. Never be tempted to get romantic in front of colleagues – they might think it fun at the time but you don’t want to be known as ‘that girl’ rather than the hot prospect for promotion. This goes for boy chat as well. Whilst sharing light details of a funny date is a great bonding subject, moaning about your ex or sharing raunchy details from the weekend could again mean you’re (rightly or wrongly) considered not serious about your work.
    5. Salary-shtum
    Never talk about money – too often it leads to salary comparisons and tears shed over your tequila. Bear in mind even disclosing things like your disposable income after bills or your student loan payments could give colleagues an insight into your earnings. Equally, the pub is not the right forum to ignite discussion on your own salary – it’s far better left for your proper review or appraisal back at the office.
    Emma plans parties for everyone from celebrities to huge companies. Visit for more information.

    For more tips on charm from Dana, see

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