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Cocktail Hour DON'Ts

Available jobs in America are hitting record-breaking lows. While this certainly gives the employed a cause for (somewhat selfish) celebration, publicist and author Marco Larsen says he sees far too many professionals hitting the town after work and giving their careers a serious case of "alcohol poisoning."

Larsen points out that many employees fail to understand the scope of the professional world. Especially as the workplace becomes increasingly competitive, the job doesn't end at the company doors. How an employee behaves outside of work can have real and lasting ramifications in his workaday life.

Don't: the Essential Guide to Publicity in New York City (and any other city that matters)' is written as a style guide for the world of business. With an introduction by Carson Kressley, DON'T aims to help readers polish their professional personas through detailed discussion about a range of topics that fit under the more social or unspoken aspects of the job.

Going out for happy hour with co-workers and clients is a powerful situation. Subjects that are usually taboo can be sensitively explored, personal tensions can be eased, and more lasting bonds can be formed.

But the power of this setting can very easily turn against the professional - Larsen mentions a few of his biggest "DON'Ts":

DON'T dress down for drinks.

Especially if you're in a junior position. At this stage of the game, you're a long way from choosing your own opportunities and must be ready to capitalize on every possibility regardless of how randomly it presents itself. Every evening at bars across the country vital contacts are made and relationships cemented; none of them will be yours if you're telegraphing that you've already punched the clock.

DON'T order vile hooch.

The following drinks are trashy. Some more than others, all more than enough. Here are the top five most offensive drink mistakes, and the caption they broadcast with your order:

  • White Zin - ''Drink up. I have to catch a train back to the Island in time for American Idol.''
  • Amaretto Sours - ''To all my sisterrrrrrs: Ohmigod I will never. forget. you guys. Now cheers to our graduation!''
  • Jack (or anything else) and Coke - See above, subtract four years.
  • 7 and 7 - ''Third rate scotch alone doesn't cut it for me. Only fizzy sugar water brings it up to my level.''
  • Rail liquor and Juice (yes, even vodka cranberry) - ''Blang-blang ya'll, let's holla at that DJ and check out that new T.I. joint! (Subtitle: I may be a pasty dude with a Yankees cap and clipper burns on the neck, but I'm still down.)''

These drinks betray a tawdry history. They are sweet, they are cloying. They are meant for palates raised on Pringles and Pepsi. They also indicate that, having staggered all the way from the trunk of Dad's car on prom night to you friend's porch, your sense of taste has contented itself with staying put, and will not be moving from that night any time soon.

DON'T text.

It's so easy, so tempting to sneak a tiny peek at that incoming message about your dinner plans. Please resist. Turning your attention from someone in the middle of conversation to fixate on a blinking plastic gadget exhibits that you have either the focus of a housefly, or are bored and too impolite to disguise it. Got better things to do than build your career?

DON'T make blatant sexual overtures in public.

If you would like to portray yourself as someone with zero restraint, a blithe fool enslaved to baser desires, then you should blatantly hit on the bartender or server (or anyone else) in plain view of your work associates. Keep your dalliances at a distance.

If the entire office is privy to the details of your shallowest sexual exploits, you will inevitably lose face. Maintain the advantage conferred in keeping a polished, professional distance between your business and personal exploits.

DON'T be the last to leave.

Nothing is quite as pitiable as clinging to a barstool and your last remaining coworker's sleeve, pleading for just one more drink. Don't linger - every situation has a beginning, middle, and an end.

Note group cues such as glancing at watches, passing up rounds, and departing in twos and threes. Make sure you're among the first two-thirds to leave. This infers you've got a life, that your time is valuable, and that you have important things to do the next day.

The fact that job market statistics are being widely described as "sobering" should be a great hint. Proper cocktail etiquette might not be the reason you were hired, but it certainly will bolster your career.

Making egregious errors in the semi-professional environment of happy hour can send you to the end of the bar permanently, to suck suds all day in whatever manner pleases you.

Mr. Larsen founded the firm, P U B L I C, nyc in 2007 - a boutique public relations firm in Manhattan that caters to a number of high profile clients, from Fortune 100 Financial Services to private aviation and independent film studios. P U B L I C, nyc has developed a brand of public relations called "bespoke publicity" - a highly tailored approach to media outreach.


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