Itâ€™s that time of the year again: The annual holiday office party. Instead of dreading spending more time with your boss and co-workers, use the opportunity to have some fun and advance your career. Office parties can be prime networking opportunities and a chance for you to stand out from the crowd with perfect party etiquette.
Passing up the invite could hurt your reputation, so if you decide to attend, there are a few basic rules to follow, says Ruben Britt, Jr., assistant director ofÂ the Career and Academic Planning Center at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.
â€śArrive on time. itâ€™s easier to network in a smaller crowd,â€ť he says. When you get there, scope the room and find key people in the company to chat with, he adds. â€śBefore the party, research that person’s role within the organization. Let them know about your position and certain aspects about your job that you enjoy. Be prepared to answer questions.â€ť
Nervous about approaching people you donâ€™t know? â€śAlign yourself with someone who knows that person or the movers and shakers, and have them introduce you to them,â€ť says Britt.
If you meet guests from outside the company, always exchange business cards. Still, says Britt, you donâ€™t only have to talk shop. Keep the conversations positive and upbeat. Avoid controversial subjects (such as office gossip, religion, politics, etc.) and off-color jokes, but show an interest in others and their opinions. â€śYou want to enjoy yourself and the company of others,â€ť he says.
During the evening, try to keep one hand free during the night so that you can offer handshakes to people as they come by. And itâ€™s a good idea to keep your drink in your left hand; your hand wonâ€™t be cold and/or wet when you do shake hands.
Remember the party is still a business function, so dress and act accordingly. Nightclub attire is a no-no. â€śPerception is everything and you don’t want to wear anything that is too short, tight or revealing,â€ť says Britt.
When it comes to food and drink, moderation is best.Â Flirting with the fellow guests and inappropriate behavior could be a career ender.
But if you do embarrass yourself, all is not lost, says Britt. â€śMake it the first order of business to apologize to the appropriate person(s). Hopefully your co-workers will understand the situation and have a good laugh about it further down the road.â€ť
At the end of the gathering, make sure to thank the host or person who organized the function. You can also send a thank-you note to top management for hosting the party.
After the party, follow up with anyone you networked with during the event. â€śWait until after the New Year to write a note or email suggesting a meeting,â€ť Britt advises. â€śMake sure that you remind the person how much you enjoyed their conversation at the office party and that you’d like to discuss a particular idea in greater detail. Use what you learned