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Business Happens at 2:00 am


I just got back from SXSW Interactive, and for those who attended I hope you were able to get some sleep because I didn’t get much.

Most people do business between the hours or 9am to 5pm.  Most people.

However, for those who attended SXSW (or who attend conferences in general) know that most of the business happens right around 2am.

Depending on the city, this is the time most of the parties are winding down, and the bars close.  And this is also the time people open up to others the most.

Here is common example of what would go down during a night at SXSW:

We all bond together and take our last drink or rush to the bar to order one last shot.  We pay for each others tab, stumble out the venue door with sore feet from the long day of walking at the conference and non-stop dancing.  We get really close when speaking to one another because our ears are ringing from the thumping techno beats, classic rock, and 80’s greatest hits.

We grab a slice of pizza from that shady street meat vender with crazy tattoos.  Then we share cab rides or walk back to the hotel lobby and tell tales of the nightlong journey to the other conference mates who missed out on “the best party of the evening”.

We rally the troupes and lounge around in smelly, sweaty clothes acting as if we have known each other our entire lives.  Then as the first person starts to fall asleep in the middle of the hotel lobby, we take our last picture of the night and post it to Twitter, and Facebook for everyone to see.

We watch as others rush to the bathroom to throw up their $113 bill of Coyote Ugly’s finest alcoholic beverages.  And after this, we realize it’s time to go to bed so we can wake up for another long day of panels, networking, and partying.

A mosh pit of high fives, hugs, and kisses take place as we say goodnight (like in the video below)

We tell each other how much fun we had, how much of a blast it was getting to know one another, and mention how we look forward to hanging out with that person in the future.

This is when business happens.

When we start having experiences with one another outside of the working mindset, and in an environment that breaks down walls and allows for a more light hearted connection.

Remember, we do business with those we know, like and trust.  One night with someone at a party gives you the best opportunity to get them to like you, know the “real” you a little better, and trust you even more.

I generate business deals all of the time at 2:00 am.  Do you?

Please share one experience where you connected with someone late at night and how it translated into a joint venture, new job, more sales, or more business opportunities.  I would love to hear your story.


Image by Steve Hall

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Brad Hogenmiller
Brad Hogenmiller

It's the social media/tech set version of taking clients golfing or to baseball games. I don't want to do business with your pocket square, I want to do business with YOU.


I've always been a proponent of this approach, but I think now more than ever people value REAL people. We don't care if they've had a few drinks. It's not "unprofessional," it's they way the oil companies and other multi-conglomerate deals have been done for decades. I have a post somewhere about how Happy Hour is phenomenal for brainstorming new business ideas, and connecting joint ventures, etc.

Glad you had an awesome time Lewis, and hate that it was a bad weekend for me and we didn't get to meet up.

Krista Neher
Krista Neher

Lewis - it was great to see you at sxsw - totally agree with your post. We connect with people through shared experiences (like partying) and that creates a stronger bond or basis for business transactions (people do business with people they know and like).

Sorry we didn't get to hang out more - we'll have to actually connect in Ohio one of these days!


Great post, Lewis and I have a great story:

A friend of mine whose father owns a small business for years has had his other son doing all of the web design, marketing, etc. He’s done a "fair" job of it, but not great. So at my friend’s wedding a couple of months ago, I ended up at the reception sitting at the bar with his father. I ask (as I often do) "how's business?" and he proceeds to tell me that they need to step up their marketing and so forth. Since we both had designated drivers (hear that, kids?), we bought each other several rounds of good-cheer and I told him about what I do in social media. Since I market a new product, and he need help with marketing a new product, we ended up exchanging cards, and I will be doing some freelance work for him this summer in addition to marketing the AirCut. A word on alcohol, though: It pays to always know your limit so you're not sloshed and end up insulting a client. In the right amount and situation, I believe some client relationships can only happen when letting your proverbial hair down once in awhile. Thanks for the post and letting me comment, Lewis!


Ryan, You are right... the "old school" corporate guys used to have a cigar, some scotch and do business with a hand shake.

Who likes to be all stuffy and serious when making a deal? It's more refreshing when you feel relaxed and trust the person you are doing business with because you really like them as a person.

We will meet up soon my man, sorry I missed you as well.


Krista- great seeing you as well!

I agree... and these shared experiences don't always have to be at 2am, but it seems like thats when they take place during conferences such as SXSW.

Look forward to seeing you in Ohio soon :)


Good point... you don't want to be sloppy drunk (as I have never been drunk for this reason) but you want to get away from the office, the conference, the board room... etc. and get in a friendly environment. Drinking is fine, but not necessary, as long as you get away from the stuffy office and connect on a personal level


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