‘Tis the season for the annual holiday office party. According to Michigan-based Image Consulting Firm, P2Styles, play your cards right and you could end up closer to gaining that office with a view. Make a wrong move, and you could be facing career suicide. Here are nine basic survival tips to keep your career heading north.
1. Appearing is Mandatory. Don’t even think about NOT going to the office party. 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 mandatory. 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 rung on the professional ladder, it’s most important for midlevel professionals who have a shot at the coveted corner office. For women, the rule of thumb “more skin, less power”, still applies. Refrain from wearing ultra-tight fitting dresses, décolletage revealing necklines, micro-mini skirts or super snug pants. Men should avoid unbuttoning more than two buttons on their shirts and wearing overly fitted shirts or sweaters that show off their muscles.
3. Leave first dates for another occasion. Assuming dates are welcomed, bring someone who you know from previous experiences will present well with co-workers and superiors. The office party is not the time to learn that your date is fixated on leather and lace or possess 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.
5. Be a good conversationalist. Avoid talking about yourself or your accomplishments all night. 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.
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. Limit your alcohol consumption and drink plenty of water or seltzer between drinks. Also, keep in mind that the hors d’oeuvres table is not intended to be a five-course meal. Enjoy the spread, but leave some for the other guests.
7. Be prepared to schmooze. Take the time to network and schmooze with those individuals who can influence your career or who you may not see regularly. Holiday parties are great for building or strengthening business relationships.
8. Don’t assume everyone celebrates Christmas. In today’s multi-cultural workplace, not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Take the politically correct route by wishing those you encounter a “Safe and Happy Holiday Season”.
9. Exit gracefully. Make an appoint 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 career advancement points.