14 Dec Network infrastructure and holiday cocktail parties
After going to tradeshows, conferences, and cocktail parties afterwards throughout the year, there is a definite question as to who really knows what they are talking about and who is clueless but trying to impress people by using buzzwords?
It is embarrassing to hear policy makers talk about network infrastructure when they don’t understand the terminology. It is worse if the person, who is trying to influence decision-makers on new technology products and services, actually works for one of the phone or cable companies. And let’s not forget the university professors and consultants who claim expertise by virtue of credentials and certificates, but not from experience.
How do these people get these positions? They are not fooling anyone (who really knows the industry). To avoid embarrassment next time, let’s take a short quiz and weed out the wannabes. Once you know what you don’t know, you can adapt your behavior at cocktail hour when most people’s personalities are amplified.
Take the Test of Network Competency on basic network terminology and concepts.
Scoring your knowledge
Thinking of going to that cocktail party at the end of the day and trying to make a better impression? With holiday parties this season, here is a simple guide to determine how you should act at the next cocktail party based on how you scored. Also check out the appropriate drinks someone of your caliber would be drinking. Or, try to socially climb up a notch or two by drinking something more sophisticated than your normal call.
Watch how others order drinks to determine where they stand on the social scale and how you may be able to dodge any shortcomings you have intellectually. Here is the scoring for the Test of Network Competency:
14 – 15 – World class. You can comment about network infrastructures and be fairly confident that you know what you are talking about. Feel free to interject your thoughts into the conversation and show others your depth of competency. We’ll cross paths someday. Are you in the Bentley Drivers Club too?
Bar etiquette: What to order? Cognac of course, unless they have some Armagnac. In either case, order XO. Especially if someone else is buying. (With what you are saving in your bar bill, you can go fill up the Bentley with gas.)
Did you know that cognac was the drink of Winston Churchill? It’s the drink of Kings. And Paris and J-Lo drive Bentleys? You can throw out those facts to impress the masses. Remember from bottom to top quality VS, VSOP, XO, if anyone tries to challenge your knowledge.
Aged scotch is also very acceptable but point out that it is harder to make a blended scotch than a single malt scotch. Never accept a single malt scotch as it’s beneath you.
As to dress, wear the best jewelry even if it means taking it out of the safety deposit box and of course, ALWAYS ask if the other guy’s Rolex is a fake. Chances are, it is. Watch out for fake Breitlings too.
12-13 Excellent. You can hold your own with almost anyone, but be open to their opinions as your score suggests you are far from being a know-it-all. Don’t overwhelm the conversation like you did last time.
Bar etiquette: Single Malt Scotch, an aged rum or maybe that 10-year old Bourbon? After you, Chatsworth. Thank you very much, Remington. (Practice manners, as they are always magnified at the bar. Be polite)
A brandy or bourbon Manhattan is totally acceptable if no brands of quality are available, but make sure you loudly comment that their bar is less stocked then yours at home. Straight up or on ice (not Cognac though – that should be straight with an ice water back-up). No mixers.
Ladies: No green or pink Martinis or anything that looks like they poured Prestone Anti-freeze into your glass. Sophistication means a light champagne, not a drink that needs its own battery pack to support its neon glow.
As to dress, tone down that preppy look even though you think it is your standard uniform. As for company or school logo shirts, leave those for the boss’s team meeting or the alumni cheese-and-crackers party. Avoid embarrassment by not wearing the University logo shirt unless you are absolutely sure no one went to a better school than you did.
If you attempt this, also make sure you do not drink something that doesn’t match the caliber of your school logo. This is highly risky as drinking a can of Milwaukee’s Best with a Princeton shirt on will create the impression that you did not go to Princeton at all, but merely stopped in their bookstore to buy a shirt on the way to Atlantic City.
10 -11 GOOD. You are far from being any expert. Don’t even admit you went to some big-time school, someone might tell you to go get your money back. Avoid that embarrassment.
Bar etiquette: Have any imported beer? Any Chardonnay? Avoid asking for Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio because we both know you are going to mispronounce it.
Play it safe. Avoid asking for some flaming panoramic drink like “Winter Sex on the Beach with diet Coke” as that does not impress, it only spotlights your lack of class which directly correlates to your lack of knowledge.
Some general hints for those scoring 10 and above. Never order any mixed drinks with Coke or flavored Vodkas with any mixer. Tutti-Frutti, Chocolate Dream or Chunky Monkey Banana are ice cream flavors, not Vodka.
8-9 FAIR. Listen more instead of offering your opinion. Remember, just about half the time you are wrong anyway.
Bar etiquette: Well, this is the Seven-Seven crowd that thinks splurging is ordering a Canadian Club and Seven-UP. Once in a while, someone will try to order that latest trend drink. Too bad the hot buttered Rumba and Moscow Mule in a copper mug are no longer in style.
Men. Try not to discuss the Three Stooges party episodes like you usually do. And refrain from dunking a tumbler into the punch bowl to recreate that scene with Curly.
And if you are a lady, wine is not served in tumblers. Remember in the movie Arthur, where his butler says, “Hmmmm.. a woman of your stature is usually found in a bowling alley.” Avoid that comment by sticking with the safe call – “Chardonnay please”. You will appear a little classier if you order a red Merlot, but please remember, the T is silent.
6-7 POOR. Is the movie “Idiocracy” a documentary to you? At the party act very gracious, don’t speak. Volunteer to get people their drinks. People will at least assume you are somewhat classy with manners if you don’t mess up their drink orders.
Bar etiquette: Order their drinks and get something inconspicuous for yourself.
No, not the umbrella drink you idiot! Get a white wine or something you can pronounce. Avoid asking for box wine with your favorite NASCAR Driver’s number on it or putting ice in your wine. Stay away from cans of domestic beer too.
If you are a female, put the beer in a glass at least. No drinking from a bottle or can. I saw a well-known female economist do that at a party once. Real class. Real loss of credibility.
And men, leave the mirror sunglasses and can opener necklace at home. They are not filming the remake of Cool Hand Luke at the party.
4-5 Hmm, DUH? – Smile and offer to go get vegetables for everyone. Better to go and get some appetizers, than show your ignorance. At least they will think you know something about nutrition and may assume you went to a decent school instead of the winter Prom at the Lincoln Trucking Institute.
Bar etiquette: Try to avoid drinking from the glass that they use to wash the swizzle sticks in. Don’t forget some napkins too as you are probably the type that spills a lot.
Football fans should not wear their sweatshirts, team ties or other team clothing to a cocktail party. Better to save it for Sundays when you normally wear it. If you are a female, keep the hockey team and NASCAR jewelry at home.
Zero – 3 right – You ARE a vegetable. Don’t go to the cocktail party.
BAR ETIQUETTE: There is none. You are the celery in the glass.
As to females and dress, since you are not going to the party you might as well go get that third Tattoo you were thinking about getting. It will look great. Really.
CARLINI-ISM: Tis the season for DUIs. Do not drink and drive.
Recent articles by James Carlini
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This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.
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