A recent survey found that 89% of companies are planning holiday or year-end parties. Office parties around the holidays always tend to be interesting. Everyone has heard the stories about someone becoming too intoxicated and embarrassing themselves, but instead of just sticking to a two drink limit, why not use this opportunity to advance your career?
Office parties are never just parties. They are networking opportunities. Think of your holiday party as a fancy networking session.
- Get dressed up and look your best. Make sure you look professional rather than a party animal.
- You might be drinking alcohol but make sure it doesn’t negatively affect your behavior. Stick to a two drink max.
- The rules are relaxed. Talk to the boss or others higher in the organization without an appointment or agenda.
You know that there will be memories of the party, so make sure the memories of you are good. Think about that classic 80/20 ratio and plan on listening 80% of the time. You don’t want to wake up the next morning, remember how you acted, and groan. Ask questions, make connections, but don’t monopolize the evening trying to get the boss to notice how great you are. This is a time to be enjoyed, but it also is a time that can be good for the advancement of your career.
It’s best to have a plan of attack before you head to the event. Take a look at 5 tips for using your company holiday party to advance your career:
It’s Not Time To Let Loose
A company holiday party serves a different purpose than the normal friends or family gathering. Company parties should be spent with key individuals who you can’t connect with normally inside the office. If you need to stop home to take a nap or eat something before arriving at the event so you aren’t zoning out or fixated on the buffet table, give yourself time. Then, once you arrive you should be fully committed to being outwardly engaged and involved until you leave.
Make Plans To Chat With Someone You’ve Been Meaning To Meet
If it’s difficult to schedule a meeting with someone you’ve been trying to connect with, reach out to them in advance and let them know you will be attending and look forward to speaking with them. This will prime them to expect your approach and encourage you to make it a priority to find them.
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Meet New People
It’s easy to hang out with the people you normally do with at the office, but that won’t lead to meaningful connections that you should be making at the party. After saying “hello,” to your friends, look for people who you don’t know very well.
“Introverts might want to ease the difficulty by setting a target number of people, such as five,” said Caroline Stokes founder of FORWARD.”An extrovert might connect with 10 or 20,” she adds. “This isn’t a competition; it’s about making meaningful connections and being human.”
Build Personal Connections
Identify individuals that could coach or help you in your position. You don’t have to go to the CEO or department head, but rather someone that has experience and a long tenure at the company. Find out about their plans for the holidays, ask about their hobbies, and generally build rapport so when you ask for advice, they’ll be more apt to help.
Don’t Chat With Only One Person
If the conversation goes on for too long politely exit by saying something like, “It’s been great speaking with you! I’m going to refresh my drink really quick.” If you would like to keep in touch, you could say, “Would you mind if I reached out to you on ___?” That way, they will be more likely to accept the request when you follow up. Don’t say that you’ll follow up unless you actually will. You want to build people’s trust in your follow through, not the opposite. You should immediately make a note in your calendar to send a follow-up e-mail the next business day. Relying on your memory can lead to you appearing unreliable.Don't send empty gestures when networking at holiday parties. Do this to maintain reliability: Click To Tweet
BONUS TIP: Attend Other Companies’ Holiday Parties
54% of company parties are employees only. If a friend invites you to his or her company party, you should go. It is an opportunity to expand your professional network.
The next business day after the event, continue your newfound relationships. Don’t revert back to a business-as-usual demeanor with the colleagues you were able to connect with personally. Resolve to continue the deeper connections you made. If you are normally seen as reserved but people got to see a friendlier you, use this opportunity to break out of your shell more often. If you made a new connection with a colleague you don’t normally work with, ask them to lunch or visit them on a break to continue the relationship.
Do you have any tips for advancing your career during a company holiday party? If so, let us know in the comments below!