It is that time of year when employers are having their year-end office parties. This may be your only time to hob knob with the power players in your company.
Make the most of this time by planning ahead, particularly if you have not previously attended one of your company’s parties.
Attend the Party
It may not be written in the policies, but plan to attend your holiday office party. You may hate the holidays or don’t celebrate Christmas, but your boss may consider it a check against you if you don’t attend.
Research the Type of Event
You will need to determine if the event is formal or informal, if the attendees will only be your department, or if you will have upper management and board members in attendance.
Be sure to review your company’s dress code and ask other employees what they usually wear to the event.
If the event is being held during or right after work, your normal dress code usually applies. Consider adding a festive splash to what you normally wear, but be aware of your company’s cultural diversity policies and overall culture. Be festive but still convey the proper professional image.
If you work for a conservative company add a festive tie, scarf or jewelry. If you work for a more relaxed company, make more of a personal statement. However, don’t forget the dress code regarding revealing attire.
Make sure your outfit makes the desired statement, but is also functional for you. If you are expected to dance, will you be able to move freely in your outfit? Will your shoe selection allow you to do all your snappy dance moves without making you do a balancing act?
Prepare for a Speech or Small Talk
If there will be an award presentation or recognition ceremony, prepare a brief acceptance speech. A short but well-spoken acceptance speech can make you shine for the people able to advance you within the company.
Prepare for small talk by boning up on recent news or corporate events. Your role here isn’t to talk someone’s ear off, but to present an intelligent open-ended question. Then let the other person ramble on. Do not use the office party as a time to vent about recent policies or complain about the lunchroom. The holiday party isn’t the right venue for venting.
Watch your cell phone usage. Keep your phone on vibrate. You should give the party and attendees your undivided attention.
If you do have to take a call, excuse yourself and find a secluded area to return your call.
Make the Rounds
Speak to everyone at the party at least once during the evening. If there is a large group of people at the party, be sure to speak with the upper-level employees and the people from your individual work group. In addition, if you frequently wish you had a go-to-guy in the accounting department, this may be your only opportunity to make that connection.
Make Sure you Behave Appropriately
Eat and drink in moderation and watch your table manners. Relax and enjoy the evening, but don’t do anything over-the-top. You are still in a work environment.
Don’t be the Last to Leave
Plan on spending a reasonable amount of time at the party, but don’t appear to be the company party-animal by being the last one to leave. If there is a dinner and a dance, stay long enough to eat, dance and make the rounds. Remember it is a professional event despite the social setting.