SmartCompany’s complete etiquette guide for the Spring Racing Carnival

Spring Racing Carnival fever is upon the nation, with the Melbourne Cup just days away on Tuesday November 5.

The festival of horses, fashion, punting and champagne kicks off tomorrow with Derby Day in Melbourne. The event, at Flemington Race Track, is expected to be attended by over 100,000 racegoers.

This year it is also expected that Melbourne Cup Carnival expenditure on fashion, food, entertainment and gambling will rise by 3.5% this year to $455.5 million, according to IBISWorld.

For many in small business, the Spring Carnival is a prime networking event. The high rollers swill champagne with the A-listers in the famous “Birdcage” marquees, where the likes of Myer, Emirates and Crown play corporate host. Lush canapés are passed around, celebrities totter on ridiculous heels and want-to-be’s try every excuse to get past the ropes.

And for small businesses, setting up a “carpark” venue by the racetrack with DIY catering and drinks is a popular and more accessible way to entertain clients.

The temptation is to let loose. You’ve been working hard, it’s a fun atmosphere and there is plenty of alcohol and food to enjoy.

But if you have your business hat on, and are entertaining work guests, or are the guest of a client, you have to keep your good reputation front of mind.

The SmartCompany team are used to going to networking events and meeting with the business world, so we’ve compiled our six key tips to ensure you end the day winning.

1. Network genuinely

You might be playing host or be a guest of another business, but don’t use the day to shove business cards in people’s faces and discuss your company’s bottom line or HR issues. It’s a social day, and while you need to keep your conversation positive and avoid spilling inappropriate details, people don’t want you forcing deal closures, or being blatantly self-promotional about your talents. 

2. Careful what you tweet

You may have some drinks and feel a little merry, but tweeting or loading pictures of your antics to your company’s Facebook page should be carefully considered. Give double thought to loading pictures that have clients in them. Clients may like your lighter side, and react well to seeing your team bond, but depending on the nature of your service, it may be best to leave the party shots off the internet.

3. Gambling too hard is not a good look

In your personal time you may enjoy a bet on a horse, and it’s fine to do a team sweep for a laugh, but if you spend the day focusing on punting and not on quality networking, it won’t place you in good stead. Gambling is a controversial activity, and some clients may object to it, so limit the number of times you line up at the bookmaker, and keep your spirits up even if you make a loss.

4. Water is your friend

It’s been a challenging year for business, and everyone deserves a break. But getting too drunk in front of clients, colleagues or potential business partners won’t place you in good stead. Health experts advise having a glass of water between every alcoholic drink and keeping a lid on your intake. If you wish to party more, head out after the track with your friends instead of work connections.

5. Don’t be a Romeo

Spring racing antics are often associated with romancing – but channelling your inner Romeo or bachelorette at a work soiree is not advised. Quietly find out the “relationship status” of anyone who you’re keen to approach, so as not to make the wrong move on the wife/husband/date of a business connection. You won’t strike that business deal later – and you may wonder why.

6. Above all, have fun

This year, business has faced economic hardship, tough competition, piles of red tape, cash flow crises and pre-election uncertainty. You deserve a break, so above all, have a good time within the rules. People will remember you if you’re genuine, friendly and keep your shoes firmly on your feet, or your tie tied up, for the duration of the day.


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