The Green Sheet Online Edition
August 08, 2011 • Issue 11:08:01
Cocktail hour confidential
Every stop on the convention circuit represents an important landmark in the payments industry year. National and regional tradeshows are where new products and services are unveiled, businesses consummate deals, and colleagues make new contacts and catch up with old friends.
Shows are also where people gather at prodigious buffets and alcohol-infused industry nights and meet-and-greets. Making new acquaintances and business contacts over food and drink is part of the job. But there can be a downside. If you imbibe too much at cocktail hour, for example, you might embarrass yourself in a very public fashion. The repercussions can be harmful to the reputation of the business you represent and to your very employment.
Soda and spirits
Knowing your limits is important. Recognizing that having a good time is always secondary to your role as the professional face of your organization is also essential. It is also incumbent on you to realize you are in control of how you interact.
Peer pressure is a powerful force at tradeshows, especially when you're trying to impress. But you can create strategies that enable you to fit in and maintain self control at the same time. You can choose soda over wine and feel perfectly content. Or you can nurse an umbrella drink all night long without drawing attention to yourself as the one nondrinker in the group.
Additionally, you can avoid the bar scene by steering one-on-one meetings to a cafe‚ in the convention center or even outdoors, where fresh air and relative calm can invigorate conversations and steer them in productive directions.
It is also important to have a sidekick you can trust in social situations. If you and a friend from work are attending an event together, it is no sign of weakness to lean on that individual when it comes to successfully navigating the "party" aspects of conventions.
Croutons and calories
Delectable food is in ample supply at industry events. For people with dietary restrictions or who are trying to maintain a certain regimen, the food courts, corporate-sponsored lunches and after-hour gatherings are challenging to say the least.
It takes discipline to forgo pizza and chocolate cake and choose salad and yogurt instead. You might weigh the short-term pleasure of rich food with the long-term consequences to your waistline and find the strength to resist temptation. Or you can treat yourself to a reasonable indulgence at the end of a long day of networking and realize you will burn it off when you make that long trek on foot from your hotel room to the convention floor the next morning.
When it comes to food, having a companion who sympathizes with, or better yet shares, your dietary goals may be the essential bulwark against culinary excess. You can make it a game with your companion, counting calories on your smart phones and adding up the totals from all your meals. The one who consumes the least calories wins, and the loser buys you both a celebratory cappuccino at the end of the show.
Of course, make that cappuccino nonfat.
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