Once again it’s time for an annual holiday office party and if you exhibit professional presence you could end up closer to gaining the position you desire. Make a wrong move, and you could be facing career suicide. Here are seven basic survival tips to keep your career on the right path.
1. Attendance is obligatory. Skipping out on the annual party displays disrespect for your company, your supervisors and your colleagues. Unless you have a justifiable conflict, showing up is compulsory. More importantly, remaining at the event for at least an hour eliminates the risk of giving the impression that your appearance was merely obligatory.
2. Dress appropriately for the occasion. While dressing appropriately is critical at every level within a business, it is most important for mid-level professionals who desire to move up or at least retain their position. For women, the rule of thumb “more skin, less power”, still applies. Refrain from wearing ultra-tight fitting dresses, revealing necklines, mini-skirts or super snug leggings. Men should avoid unbuttoning more than two buttons on their shirts and wearing overly fitted shirts or sweaters.
3. Leave first dates for another occasion. Assuming dates are welcome; bring someone who will make a good impression with co-workers and superiors. The office party is not the time to learn that your date uses profanities or has over-indulgent drinking habits.
4. Conduct yourself professionally. What you say and do will resonate in the minds of your colleagues and managers. Inappropriate behavior can cause your career to be shorter than everyone else’s memory. In all of your interactions, be positive and conduct yourself with charm and savvy. This is not the time to express employee grumbles or become too chummy with a co-worker.
5. Be a good conversationalist. Avoid talking about yourself or your accomplishments. Instead, make others your focal point. Show that you are genuinely interested in each person within a group by asking open-ended questions and including everyone in the conversation with both questions and eye contact. Take the time to network with those individuals who can influence your career or who you may not see regularly. Keep your glass in your left hand so when you shake hands with someone, your hand isn’t wet or cold. Holiday parties are great for building or strengthening business relationships.
6. Eat, drink and be merry in moderation. The stories of people who have overindulged at company parties are legendary, and there’s always a price to be paid. Some believe if alcohol is “free”, then they must take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts. Eat a bite before you drink. Limit your alcohol consumption and drink plenty of water or seltzer between drinks. Also, keep in mind that the hor dourves table is not intended to your meal.
7. Exit gracefully. While sometimes inconvenient to track down the host, make a point to say thank you and goodbye to the person or persons responsible for the planning and coordinating of the party. Sending a thank-you note to top management for hosting the party is sure to help you gain notice and be appreciated.