If you’ve been in the workforce for very long, you’ve likely witnessed the best and the worst at holiday business functions. On the “please no” side of the ledger is drunken behavior, overeating, club cleavage, groping Sams/Sallys and the ones who came late and stayed even later. Whether it’s your office party or a holiday charity fundraiser your client has invited you to attend, here are some basic expectations your host may have that would put you on the positive side of the ledger for professional party-goer behaviors:
- First and foremost, go. If you are nurturing a professional career, you’ll want to seek out: (1) an event hosted by your company; (2) an event hosted or sponsored by a client company; (3) charitable events; (4) events hosted by association or trade shows relevant to your career or company; and (5) networking events. This is the time to forge relationships that go beyond the office and into the real world of business.
- Thank the host and any business sponsors. Make it a point to thank the people manning the tables ringing the perimeter for making such a nice event possible. Consider also sending a follow-up note of appreciation to top management of the hosting organization for any event you attend.
- Treat any professional gathering as, well, a professional gathering. Behave as though your supervisor or board of directors was watching you and maintain a positive, upbeat attitude toward your business, clients and co-workers. This isn’t the place to lower your marketing guard or engage in gossip.
- Think moderation – in dress, food, drink and conversation. Avoid controversial subjects such as politics, religion, etc. and be very careful about the jokes you tell, especially those that seem funnier the more you drink…
- Seek out people who can influence your career as well as friends and work colleagues. Think management, key connections, etc. Then, rather than spend all evening talking business (boring!), or trying to impress them with your resume, instead ask questions so that for every encounter you have, you’re talking only about 30 percent of the time or less. This will leave them feeling positive toward you and curious to know you better.
- Make sure, if you bring a guest, that guests are welcome and that your guest is comfortable making introductions on their own as well as with you.
And a final thought: Keep calm and merry on!