Networking Bottom Line Up Front: Be prepared. Keeping flask of good Bourbon available means you can make the most of opportunities to create meaningful connections. There’s something powerful about a harmless conspiracy between men. When you offer a man a drink from your own flask, it’s even better.

The Key to Networking: Be Prepared and Be Yourself

You’ll see this again and again. If you like yourself and are at home with yourself, you’ll attract others, they will relax talking with you and you’ll both benefit. Add being prepared and open to the possibilities in life, and you’ll add value even as you receive value. Top it off with refined communication skills and you become a powerful networker and communicator.

Lesson Learned: Preparation and openness pay off.

Value Added: Kindness to another husband and father at a tough time in his life and his bride’s life.

Value Gained: A great experience and improved confidence in reaching out to others.

A Beijing hospital at 2:00 a.m.

My bride gave birth to our sixth child, Brendan, early in the morning in a Chinese hospital in Beijing. After Brendan was born and my wife was resting I went prowling around the hospital looking for ice for a soft drink.

I saw a big westerner pacing the hallway like a tiger. Back and forth, back and forth. I said “Good morning.” He said “Good morning.” He was a nervous German and he was huge.

I said, “How’s it going?”

He said, “Not so good. My wife’s having a baby.”

I said, “Don’t worry, they’re great here.”

He said, “No, no. She’s Chinese.”

I was confused. I said, “Yeah, they’re great here, don’t worry.”

Staring down at me he said, “Look at me.”

I understood. He was a big man married to a Chinese. His wife was small. The baby was big and his wife was going through a difficult delivery. At a loss, I asked him, “Would you like a drink? I have some bourbon.”

He said, “Here? Now?”

I said, “Sure.”

He said, “That would be great.”

So I found the ice I was looking for, got a couple of plastic cups, broke out my Maker’s Mark, and poured us a splash. As he and I drank we each fell silent. I felt a little guilty. I’m an American and we have a troubled relationship with alcohol.

I said, “You know, in the United States there are people who will tell you alcohol doesn’t help.”

The big nervous German father-to-be turned and looked down at me.

“Let me tell you,” and he drained his cup. “It helps a lot.”

We laughed.

His wife had a son.

Call to Action: Buy a flask. Here’s a good link. Educate yourself about alcohol and start to enjoy this international conspiracy of men who share a drink.  Keep the full flask with you as much as you can, keeping in mind people may draw the wrong conclusion so be careful. Be alert for opportunities to invite men you’d like to know better for a quick drink. Journal about it and stay in touch with them.