Office Holiday Parties Can Make (or Break!) Your Career

The holiday office party can be fun as long as you recognize and follow rules of expected behavior. Think of the party as a career booster, and you won’t overstep any boundaries. Dress for success and show up on time ready to present your best professional self. Seize the opportunity to make business contacts. The most common mistake most people make at office holiday parties is drinking too much alcohol. If you decide to drink, do it responsibly. If you are new at the company, check with a trusted co-worker to find out the unwritten rules about what’s expected.

Show Up and RSVP. Think of the company holiday party as a command performance. You are expected to attend, so go even if you are not enthusiastic. You run the risk of slighting company bosses if you don’t make an appearance. Remember that they planned the annual party to thank employees and celebrate the firm’s accomplishments. Reply to the invitation within two days of receiving it.

Focus on the opportunity. You don’t go to the office party for the free hors d’oeuvres and open bar. It is a golden chance to meet new clients, talk to a superior and get to know people from different departments. Remember to think of this as a professional gathering. You’re not hanging with your buddies.

Eat before you go. It’s easy to get carried away at any party and drink more than you planned. Eating protein before the party is a trick that will reduce the impact of alcohol on your behavior. Choosing protein snacks from the buffet during the event also will help reduce alcohol’s influence. Use food to help you stay in your professional lane.

Don’t linger at the bar. Here’s another trick to guard against over-imbibing.Set a limit on how many drinks you will have during the event. Are you comfortable with one or two? Get your drink and move away from the bar.Hovering increases the temptation to order another.

Put down your phone. The people who planned the company party are supervisors who expect you to interact with your colleagues and clients. You miss the chance if you stay glued to your phone, and your older superiors may think your behavior is just plain rude.

Mingle. Holiday parties offer a chance to meet clients and colleagues outside your department.Don’t pass up the opportunity because you feel most comfortable with the co-workers you see every day. Take advantage of this venue to boost your career by making contacts and cultivating mentors.

Don’t arrive on an empty stomach. You may be tempted to eat too much and too messily if you’re hungry, and the sight doesn’t present a professional image.Avoid meeting others with a mouthful of hors d’oeuvres. Keep hands clean and you won’t have to worry about shaking hands with sticky fingers.

Keep the conversation appropriate. Remember that people who can promote you may be within earshot. Don’t use profanity. Avoid gossiping or talking about your co-workers. Skip controversial topics and don’t divulge inappropriate personal information. Hold shop talk to a minimum and don’t give away business secrets. Movies, books, travel and pets are good conversation topics.

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