Tis the season for holiday office parties and the opportunity to potentially advance your career. The occasion affords the chance to mingle with management, express gratitude to colleagues who have contributed to your successes, and to introduce yourself to executives you’ve not previously met. But there are possible pitfalls that can not only negate the positive aspects but derail what might have been a promising career. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to avoid them.
First, and perhaps foremost, don’t forget that in spite of the festive environment, you are essentially at work. While it’s okay to relax and step down from a purely professional demeanor, don’t allow yourself to say or do things that might raise an eyebrow, or two, or three.
Don’t dress as you would for a night out at the club and remember to limit the number of alcoholic drinks you consume. You’re not apt to positively impress anyone once you’ve had a few too many and you risk damaging relationships that you’ve already established. Similarly, if you’ve been invited to bring a guest, choose that person carefully, eliminating the possibility that negative or inappropriate behavior might reflect back on you.
Instead, show up prepared to make the event work in your direction. Prepare a list of conversation topics that are relevant and that people might find interesting. Similarly, ask questions that signal that you’re invested in your colleagues and work environment. Listen. You’re just as apt to make a favorable impression by being the audience as you are the entertainment.
As in any social situation that includes attendees that are not close friends or relatives, avoid topics of conversation that are potentially inflammatory. And, finally, don’t forget to express gratitude to your hosts. Someone spent money to stage the event and you owe them the courtesy of a personally extended thank you.
Happy holiday party-goers! Make the experience a good one!