Should you head home straight after work, or is it better to relax and enjoy a few beers with friends after a long, hard day? While your spouse may argue that your time could be better spent at home with the family, attending happy hour on occasion can have its share of benefits.

When to Say Yes to Happy Hour

Although happy hour isn’t a mandatory event, like an office party, it does provide you with the opportunity to get to know your coworkers better in an informal, neutral environment. You can use this as a key networking opportunity to find out about company-wide news before it hits the presses and learn about new projects on the horizon. Make sure you don’t indulge in food or drink that can harm your health- there is nothing worse than having to leave early to look for dentists in westchase.

If you’re concerned about your job performance or status, happy hour can offer the prime opportunity to network with the right people in your company.

While happy hour shouldn’t be an occasion to brag about or market yourself, you can use happy hour conversation as a casual way to bring up new ideas related to your company and mention relevant skills that may benefit a project. Yes, the primary purpose of happy hour is social interaction, but you can strategically mix business with pleasure.

5 Top Tips for Happy Hour Networking

If you want to get a leg up in the professional world, happy hour can be so much more than boozing and schmoozing.

Use these helpful tips to turn your next after-work happy hour into a networking opportunity:

  • Stay professional, even outside of the office. It is still advised to conduct yourself professionally, especially when sharing drinks with higher-ups at your company.
  • Attend, even if you don’t drink. If you don’t consider yourself a drinker, you can still go to happy hour and have club soda and an appetizer – without missing out on conversation.
  • Pace your drinking. There is no faster way to make a bad impression on your employer than by getting sloppy drunk at happy hour. If you don’t know your limits, stick to a two drink minimum to keep behavior professional.
  • Talk to the quiet employees. You never know exactly what you will find when you start talking to the introverted employees at the table. You may discover that you have shared interests and can learn about new job opportunities that you may not have heard of otherwise.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a regular at happy hour, accepting an invitation every now and then can help you to better connect and climb the rungs of the corporate ladder.