When it comes to advancing your hospitality career, it’s not just about how you handle yourself during a shift, but it’s also about who you interact with. Our industry is unique because the best chefs, bartenders, and ambassadors are often within arm’s reach. Whether you’re sitting across a bar from each other or mingling at the latest liquor release party, if you are looking to move up in the hospitality industry, here are four reasons why you need to network.
It’s easy to feel lost or overwhelmed when you’re just entering the industry. Your coworkers and others in the industry will help you get up to speed and help you advance your technical skills. Even if you are the most seasoned, knowledgeable person behind the stick, there will always be someone that can teach you a new technique or offer new information about a product. Meeting fellow hospitality industry professionals and learning more about their perspective can give you that creative spark to pursue something further.
Going out to other local bars and restaurants not only gives you a better idea of what’s trending around you, but it can give you a deeper insight into your local clientele. Go explore your surroundings, get to know fellow industry pros, and keep an eye out for industry events. These events are a perfect opportunity to rub shoulders and learn what makes your local hub special.
What’s incredible about this industry is that, once you make connections, they’ll take you far and wide. For me, being a member of the United States Bartender’s Guild (USBG) helped me stay connected in the industry even when I was moving. I left Portland, OR for Boston and quickly landed a job in Boston less than a week after I moved thanks to my active membership. You also don’t have to be the biggest social butterfly or social media nerd, but it doesn’t hurt when it comes to staying in touch and in the know.
As much as you might get from networking, it’s just as important to give back. That can take many forms, whether it be mentorship or volunteering. Four years ago, I began volunteering for events all over the place. Not only did I gain more industry connections and mentorship through that, but I was able to help others do the same.
Some of you might be wondering how to handle yourself when networking. The best way to get involved is to be yourself! It’s okay to be the quieter, cocktail-minded bartender, as well as the loud, dive bar slinger. Your interesting identity is what makes you a unique member of the bar and restaurant industry.
You can’t make it in any industry on your own—let others be part of your journey, and be part of theirs.