This is all too good to let pass by. Olivier from the Brand Builder Blog and all round cool guy has been shmoozing in Florida and this post should earn him a Nobel Prize for making the world a more esomethingétique place to live in.
1. Dress up, not down: Sure, you’re flying South to Miami for your next conference… but that doesn’t mean that wearing shorts and Magnum P.I. shirts is acceptable. In the summer, get yourself a khaki suit or a white dinner jacket, and stand out from the rest of the shmoes by dressing up but without being too stuffy. Leave the jeans at home. Browse a GQ. Find simple ways to look elegant and professional without looking like you’re trying.
2. Know what drinks to order. If you’re a guy, avoid anything that sounds tropical (Sex On The Beach, Blue Coconut, etc.) Stick to the basics: Vodka Tonic, Cuba Libre (Rum & Coke), Gin & Tonic, Bloody Mary, etc. For extra style points, order a 37 if the sun is still out, and a Floyd Browne if it’s getting late. Beer is okay if the event is very casual, but ordering a simple cocktail does add a certain air of sophistication and good taste. Sorry, my Southern Baptist friends… I guess you’ll have to settle for soft drinks. No worries.
Because I couldn’t find a decent cocktail in Ft. Lauderdale to save my life, I created my own. Here they are, just in case you’re traveling soon and need a break from the same old same old:
The 37: In a tumbler 2/3 full of ice cubes, pour 1/2 tonic with 1/8 gin, 1/8 vodka citron, 1/8 rum, and 1/8 triple-sec. Add two lime wedges and one lemon wedge. Stir and enjoy. Perfect pre-dinner drink. Looks good, tastes remarkably like 7-up, and you will impress everyone with your awesome continental cocktail-designing prowess.
The Floyd Browne: In a Whisky glass, pour 1/3 cognac and 2/3 irish cream on the rocks. Best for late night chats into the wee hours. (Subjects optional, but I would recommend branding, politics, and marketing strategy.) Also known as a “French orgasm” when you mix the two ingredients 1/2 & 1/2, but not everyone will find the name all that charming.
3. Do not do shots. Do NOT do shots. Just don’t. You aren’t in college anymore.
4. If you must do shots, order a round for EVERYONE. Do not get drunk or buzzed. Always remain in control of your sobriety at all times. A gentleman and true professional) stays sober. Period.
5. Stay sober, no matter what. Know your limits. Do not get drunk at a busines event. Ever. Just because everyone else is doesn’t mean you should. Be better than the rest.
6. Get to your meetings on time – or better yet, early. Have an agenda. Take copious notes. Turn each meeting or session into a call to action. Plan a follow-up. Thank your guests or hosts for taking the time to be with you. Be super damn friendly and polite.
7. Stand when a woman walks into the room. If it’s a big room, don’t. I’d put the radius of having to get up at about 15 feet. When a woman gets up from a conference table – or dinner table – get up too. It’s a thing.
8. If there is a short line to get into a room or elevator, invite everyone to enter ahead of you. This works great for elevators. Being a gentleman is easy and everyone digs it. The elevator won’t leave without you.
9. Offer to buy. (Dinner, drinks, coffee, breakfast, whatever.) Even if you don’t want to, offer.
10. Shine your shoes.
11. Unless you have a massive gut, buy pants with no pleats.
12. Sports coats. Dinner jackets. Wear them.
13. Golf shirts belong on the golf course. Short sleeved dress shirts belong in the 1970’s. Dress like you mean it.
14. Get yourself a good writing instrument.
15. Stand up straight. Sit up straight. Don’t slouch.
16. Chew with your mouth closed.
17. If coffee is served, opt for the ceramic coffee cups instead of the paper cups. a)your coffee will taste a whole lot better, and b) you will look and feel a whole lot more sophisticated. Using a real spoon instead of some plastic or wood stirry thing will complete the experience.
18. Heck, try tea instead, and give it a little bit of cream. It’s how the Brits do it, and it tastes awesome. Good conversation starter as well.
19. Invest in nice accessories: Timepiece, writing instrument, eyewear, mobile device. Little details like those go a long way. I’m not suggesting bling. Bling sucks. Look for style and subtle sophistication.
20. Mobile phones + belt clips/holsters: um… no. You’re not a construction worker. Leave the toolbelt in the back of the truck there, Bubba. (A dinner jacket or sport coat’s inside breast pocket comes in handy now, doesn’t it.)
21. Know your shit. Be the most knowledgeable guy at the table. Always. No exceptions.
22. No matter how knowledgeable you are, listen more than you speak. Ask questions. Don’t cut people off. Steer the conversation to a point. Or two. Or three. But no more per hour.
23. Divorce and separation stories don’t make the best conversations in a business setting, even if the atmosphere seems casual. Don’t go there.
24. Sexual Harassment rules apply to all business and social settings, regardless of how many miles you are from the office or how late it is in the day. Business conferences are not meat markets. Have some decorum. Exercise discretion, common sense, and professionalism.
25. No matter how much alcohol you have ingested the night before, come morning, you must show no sign, no hint of the evening’s debauchery. Be crisp, be fresh, be ready to own the world. Show up late or not at all, and you’re just a chump who can’t hold his liquor and doesn’t have enough sense to know it.
26. A quick hello, handshake and super brief introduction as you walk by works better than an awkward bullshit conversation. (“So, like… what do you do?” Bleh.) Learn how to work a room. (Enter, pick a spot where you want to end up, and make a point to say hi to two or three people on your way there. If you look like you’re on your way to going somewhere, you can pull this off.)
“Oh hey (name optional). Olivier Blanchard, with SYNNEX. (Handshake.) How are you liking the conference so far? (Let the person answer.) Cool. Listen, great meeting you. (Point to the bar or the coffee station.) I’m going to get something to drink. Do you want something? (Chances are, they’ll say no. In that case:) All right. Now I have to go find my peoples before they get themselves in trouble. See you later. Great meeting you!” (If they say yes, find out what, go get it, bring it back, and ask them what they do. The rest of the conversation will take care of itself.)
27. Pink shirt. Buy one. Trust me on this.
28. Don’t be a loud phone talker. If you must be, go be by yourself somewhere.
29. Pants should be fitted. Jackets too.
30. Send frequent but concise emails or txt updates to your boss. yes, even into the evening. They can read them the next day if they’ve logged off. Reminding them that you’re working your ass off and that you’re on a mission won’t hurt.
31. The cash gets folded and goes in the front trouser pocket.
32. The tie comes off after 6pm. The jacket stays.
33. Have a schedule and stick to it.
34. Travel in style. James Bond looks cool doing it. So can you. Don’t look like a tourist. Even in airports, your brand is alive and in full display. be the best dressed guy on the plane, and the best dressed guy checking in to your hotel. (You’ll get treated 10x better, which is a nice plus.)
36. Always elevate the professional level of a room.
The point of all of this is: Even after hours, you represent your business and your professional personal brand at all times. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’re out having dinner or drinks or coffee after your conference sessions are over, you can act as if you were at home with your buddies. You aren’t. People’s judgment of you doesn’t end at 5pm. Your brand is always on.
As long as someone is watching, reading or listening, your brand is on. Your every move is being scrutinized. And once you realize that, it isn’t a stretch to realize that you are either creating a positive image of yourself, or a negative one.
Everything you do that your peers and bosses see goes into one of two buckets: The good bucket, or the bad bucket.