‘Tis the season for holiday parties and gatherings with both business and social contacts. These activities can help you advance your career if you use them appropriately. It is important to avoid any negative impact on your career.
Holiday Office Parties
- Network like crazy. This is an amazing opportunity to make connections outside the group you with work with every day. Try to meet as many people as possible and ask about what they do. Keep track of people you want to follow-up with back in the office. Use this informal opportunity to make a positive impression and build your connections. Remember spouses and significant others can be valuable connections as well.
- Use Every Opportunity to Connect. Resist the temptation to hide in the corner or spend the entire evening with the people you work with every day. Take advantage of the opportunity to network as much as possible. Talk to people waiting in line for the bar, the buffet or even the rest room. You have something in common already so use the opportunity to introduce yourself and learn about what they do. You may be pleasantly surprised by who you meet and what you learn.
- Keep it professional. Yes it is a social event but it is still a business event. You have to face these people on Monday morning. You do not want to be the talk of the office on Monday morning. Do not do anything to stand out in a negative way. This is not the time to overindulge, make unwanted advances, bad mouth the company or take over the microphone for karaoke. Keep it professional and you’ll have no regrets. Drinking too much at the party could be a career limiting move.
- Dress professionally. While it is fine to get in the spirit of the festivities and dress up a bit, keep it professional. Avoid anything suggestive, revealing or inappropriate.
- Social Media Considerations. Resist the urge to post FaceBook photos of an out of control colleague at the party. Do not tweet inappropriate comments. Even if someone is acting inappropriately it doesn’t make you look good to be the one highlighting their bad behavior publicly. Keep photos and tweets professional.
Professional Holiday Gatherings
- Network Constantly. Many professional and business organizations plan holiday events. These are great opportunities for networking with peers in your field. Use each gathering as an opportunity to meet new people and learn a bit about what they do. For those with whom you wish to have a more in depth conversation, ask if you can follow up after the holidays. Most people like to talk about what they do so just ask and you’ll be surprised by what you learn.
- Share Your Focus. If you are seriously looking for your next opportunity, let people know what you are looking for so they are able to identify opportunities to help. They may have contacts at your target companies. Don’t spend the entire event pressing people for contacts but bring it up as appropriate in your conversations. You never know what valuable connections may result from a casual conversation at a social event. Be interested in others by asking what they do, where they work, what they like most about their jobs. You will be amazed by how much your can learn.
- Behave Professionally. Make a great impression so people will remember you positively and will want to introduce you to their contacts.
- Make Introductions. Help others meet people at the event by offering to make introductions. They will appreciate the connections and they will value your support.
Enjoy the holiday festivities with colleagues but remember, these are still a professional events. Be on your best behavior to avoid regrets on Monday morning. It is a valuable opportunity to meet other colleagues outside your daily interactions and to meet the interesting spouses and significant others of your colleagues. Networking is great – just don’t try looking for a new job while attending your company party!!!