Tips for Successfully Navigating Your Company-Sponsored Holiday Party
The festive season is approaching and with it, the invitation to your company’s holiday party. Depending on your personality type and feelings about your co-workers and workplace, this function can either be a welcome break from the grind or an awkward affair that you only attend out of obligation.
One of the most challenging aspects of these sorts of events is that they straddle the line between work and personal life — which can make them hard to navigate, and you may feel inclined to opt out of attending.
If you are thinking about skipping your holiday work party- don’t! There are good reasons for showing up at your company’s seasonal celebration. And, whether you love or simply tolerate this type of affair, the tips offered here can help you navigate through this sometimes tricky terrain.
Remember: It’s a Professional Activity
Even if the party is held outside of the workplace and after normal business hours, it is still a work function. As such, all (or at least most) of the same rules that guide you in your daily job environment should lead you in attending this event. While a company’s culture will largely determine what is appropriate for work-related social get-togethers, you can’t go wrong if you stick with the following basics.
Attire: Unless the party will be held at a venue where formal dress is required, opt for professional, holiday festive or business casual attire. It is not unusual for a company to take photos of social events to use in internal communications — so make sure that you dress in a manner that won’t leave you cringing if your picture were to appear in a newsletter.
Timeliness: A holiday work event is not the appropriate occasion to practice your skills at being either “fashionably late” or “the last to leave.” Arrive on time, or even early if you might be able to lend a hand. And, leave at a reasonable time. Don’t be the person who stretches the event out for an hour longer than planned by overstaying.
Food and Drink: In a word: moderation. For however tempting that huge buffet and open bar might be, it is best to keep any desires to over-indulge under wraps. Sample the food, nurse your drink and focus your energy on interacting and networking instead.
Expand Your Network
One of the best reasons for attending social work events is that it provides you with the opportunity to meet and interact with higher-ups and colleagues from different departments. Establishing new connections can be especially valuable if you have aims to advance within your company. While you should not try to sell yourself, you should use the event to expand your network.
Mingle: Try to avoid spending all your time with your daily co-workers. Interact with people outside of your normal sphere. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, politely and professionally, to upper managers and stakeholders, thanking them for the party.
Mix It Up: It’s okay to “talk shop” at a party, but you should try to keep it to a minimum. Try to mix up your conversation topics to engage the most interest. Stick to non-controversial subjects, like a popular movie, bestselling book or one of your hobbies or interests.
Keep It Upbeat: Whether talking about a company initiative or your favorite TV show, keep your comments positive. This isn’t the time to complain or air grievances. You are meeting people who may be important to your career somewhere down the line. Make sure you are leaving them with a good first impression.
Get Noticed – For the Right Reasons
Even if you do not anticipate seeking a promotion or advancement to a different position, you still need to be effective in the position you hold now. Your professional reputation influences your success in the workplace, and how you conduct yourself at a social work affair can impact your reputation. You should have fun at the party, but it is in your best interest to be conscious of the impression that you make.
Be Courteous: Greet people when you arrive and offer farewells before you leave. Be gracious, humble and appreciative. The party coordinators worked hard to provide you with a fun event and your employer provided funding for it. Why not thank them for it?
Be Mindful: The prevalence of cell phone cameras and social media sharing means that almost nothing is truly private anymore. Assume that you may end up on someone’s public post the following day and act accordingly; don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t want the world to see.
Be Noticed: Getting attention at a work party can be helpful for your career if it comes from a recognition of good conduct. Aim to make a great impression on everyone. Being courteous, gracious and professional will attract notice for the right reasons.