What if, though, this night of socializing could be turned into something more significant? Not to turn philosophical and ask if a drink is just a drink, but is happy hour only about fun and games?
||Cocktails after work can offer some relaxation and even help form valuable professional relationships.|
Unwinding from a day in the office dealing with clients and other legal issues may require some alcoholic comfort and sympathetic company from time to time. When you enter the happy hour scene, you're no longer on the clock, right? Isn't that why it's referred to as "happy hour"? Sure, you've decided to go with coworkers and maybe a few higher-ups, but this is your time to loosen up a bit.
However, you don't want to let all of your guards down — at least not completely. That fourth drink might make you a bit more comfortable, but it also might make you a bit too comfortable and cause you to reveal too much.
Happy hour is not just for mild gossip and goofy gabbing; it's also a great setting for networking. You can get closer to coworkers and share funny work stories over a mutual love of drinks and food. This is your chance to get to know people who have been with the firm or company longer and pick their brains for some company knowledge and advice. They can be sources of information you would never get access to sitting in your office or cubicle.
Most people feel more comfortable after having a drink, so it's easier to discuss issues you wouldn't normally chat about in a workplace environment. These issues might range from family situations to coworker relationships — it doesn't matter too much.
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Although the drinking and eating route is the way to go, keep in mind that you are still being judged amongst peers with whom you work. Even if you think it will all be innocent amusement, your colleagues won't excuse inappropriate intoxicated behavior as a complete misrepresentation of who you are.
One of the best things about happy hour is that a lot of places offer their drink and food specials until late, which means you will have plenty of time to use wisely. Restaurants like Yard House often have late-night happy hours on Mondays, and Dave & Buster's offers various happy hour specials a bit later in the evening.
Find out which local venues will provide you with a comfortable atmosphere, and pick a place where you can hear yourself talk. You may not want to be yelling over cheering sports fans if you are planning to network. A lot of places have different seating areas you can select from, so work with that. If you pick the bar, chances are you won't be as comfortable, but if you pick a booth, you can make the conversations more personal.
Make the time you spend at happy hour useful, but don't forget to have a good time while doing so. After all, you're no longer at work, and getting a little more social won't hurt you as long as you keep it in perspective. Cheers!