#STEMSaturdays: Networking During Happy Hour


Networking comes in many forms—from coffee shops to conference halls—so is it any surprise that one can often network during a happy hour mixer?


“Alcohol” and “professionalism” can co-exist, and in this post we help you navigate these sometimes tricky networking events.


We start with a disclaimer: we do not endorse nor condone these types of networking events. If you do not feel comfortable in this environment, do not feel like you have to drink any alcoholic beverages or attend these types of events.


First, before you go to this event, let somebody trustworthy know where you are going and how long you plan to be out. This person can be a family member, significant other, roommate, best friend, etc. If you’re driving, let them know when you’re arriving and leaving the establishment. Make sure you have sobered up before getting behind the wheel— DO NOT drink and drive. Better to be safe and sorry; have someone pick you up or designate a DD (designated driver). None available? Use UberLyft, or a taxi.


Like many others, you may be scratching your head in front of your closet wondering, “What do I wear?”


Remember you are still in “work mode,” as you are attending these events with the intent to network. Feel free to let your hair down a bit, but keep it professional. These are my wardrobe essentials, where I can pick and choose a myriad of casual-ish, yet professional, outfits:



Before attending a mixer event, make sure you have fed yourself!


I usually eat a filling meal, which has two purposes: there’s plenty of food in my stomach which leaves less room for alcohol, and I’m less tempted to spend money.


Unlike a social night with friends, you do not want to pre-game. Instead, drink water before your night out. Once at the event, no harm in buying a bowl or two of hot fries for the group—good for absorbing the alcohol!


During the event, continue to drink water between alcoholic drinks. Hate tasteless H20? Spruce it up with some lemon slices!


Limit yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks during the event so you do not become impaired in front of colleagues and potential collaborators or and/or employers. Talk about an embarrassing first impression.


If at any moment you don’t feel safe, tell a bartender. Or, have your trustworthy individual on speed dial or a text away. Some people have a safe word they text to their friend (“Red”) or a phrase (“Is Becky okay?”) while others are more direct (“911! Help!”). Whatever you choose, make sure both you and your contact are aware of what the phrases mean.


Do not ever walk home alone at night. If you have no choice, stay on the phone with your contact until you are home safe. I used to call my now-husband and talk to him while walking home in the dark, constantly being vigilant of my surroundings. Stay aware of the people around you and where you are—that means NO HEADPHONES.



(in the US—please chime in with security apps you use worldwide)


  • WATCHME 911: One of the best security apps available for the iPhone. There are four main features: a panic alarm and flashlight, an automatic 911 emergency dial, a panic mode and a monitor me mode. The panic mode will send SMS messages – along with your GPS location – to a predefined contact in your address book so that they can help you.


  • CIRCLE OF 6: The White House has endorsed this security app. Circle of 6 is an app which sends pre-set messages to a circle of 6 people who you have chosen to in an emergency situation. You can customize the message to contain your location or address, and there is even an option to request that the person calls you as soon as they can.


  • GUARDLY: This app allows you to set specific people to call in specific situations. You do have to pay a subscription fee every month of $1.99 if you want to be able to call 911 directly from the app.


  • HOLLABACK!: A security app available on Android and iPhone which will take a photo of anyone who you deem to be harassing you, which it then automatically uploads to a harassment website to warn others of this person in the area.


  • STREETSAFE: Your Facebook account will list your current location so that all of your friends can see it, and SMS and phone messages will be sent to people who you have listed to #contact in an emergency.


*this post is not sponsored


About the Author:

Melissa C Marquez is a marine biologist and science communicator based in New Zealand. She is the founder of the Fins United Initiative.  You can find her twitter here, and support her on Patreon here