I love happy hour. Every single person who knows me in real life or follows any of my Snapchat or Instagram stories knows that I love mingling over discounted drinks. But I don’t think many people know my purpose for going to happy hours. In all honesty, it has been one of the top ways I’ve built connections, learned important professional advice and it led me to my current job.
Happy hour is one of the rare times where you can relax and be productive at the same time. I truly think that by skipping work happy hours you are doing yourself a disservice. You don’t have to talk to every co-worker at happy hour or even drink (I’ve ordered a Shirley Temple before, no one cares). In my opinion, the purpose of happy hours is to strengthen bonds and form more of a personal connection with the people you spend 8+ hours with every day. Here’s how going to happy hours has helped my career.
HAPPY HOURS HELPED ME LAND A BETTER JOB
About a year ago, one of my co-workers was moving to New York and was having a farewell happy hour at the bar next to our office. The bar wasn’t that good and I was tired but I wanted to be a good co-worker and bid him a nice goodbye. About 15 minutes into the festivities, a former co-worker of ours walked in. I really enjoyed working with this former co-worker and I struck up a friendly conversation. I asked her how she was liking her new job and just made casual small talk. She told me there were a few positions open in her department. (I already knew this because I knew I missed the deadline lol.) It was a quick conversation because it began to rain and I wanted to get home. The next day I got a Facebook message and email from the person I was speaking with at happy hour. She said she spoke to the hiring manager at her job and recommended me for a position. I needed to send over my resume ASAP. Thankfully I had my resume up-to-date and a couple days later I had a phone interview.
I got the job and sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t go to that happy hour.
MY BOSSES GOT TO REALLY KNOW ME
When you’re first starting out in your career it can be intimidating to talk to your boss in the office–let alone outside of the office. I know it’s sometimes scary but you need strike up some conversations with your manager(s) if you’re able to. I started out small and asked stuff like, “Just wondering, where are you from?” and “Hey, I really liked that story you helped produce, how did it come about?” I learned things about my bosses and they sure learned a of a lot about me too. These things included what my hobbies are, my former jobs (you know those gigs you don’t list on your resume) and what I want to do in my career.
Since I was able to speak with my managers in an informal setting, it helped me gain confidence to speak up in the office. If I can talk to you about reality TV over margaritas, I can talk to you about that project I want to be on. Right?
YOU MEET PEOPLE THAT CAN HELP YOU IN YOUR INDUSTRY
In addition to going to your companies happy hours, I highly suggest going to other professional happy hour events that are going on in your city. No, I’m not telling you to go to happy hour every single day. You should be relaxing, cooking and exercising after work too. Try going to happy hour once a week or once every other week with the purpose of connecting with one new person. Attending happy hour events that other organizations host has gained help gain great contacts and even some new friends.
To wrap up: I hope you go to the next happy hour you’re invited to, don’t get too tipsy (I never drink more than two drinks) and make some great connections.
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