Dec 1, 2011

A Holiday Party is Still a Corporate Event!

Thanksgiving is the official start of the holiday season.  Throughout the month of December, you will be invited to holiday parties -- your employer's, your significant other's employer, and vendors.  At every holiday party, for one reason or another, someone ends up being the talk of the party...and not for the right reasons.  We've all heard those stories the next day that begin with "Oooh, do you remember when ______ did/said _____?" or "Oooh, did you see ________ when he/she _______ in front of ____?"  Those individuals spend the rest of the year trying to live those stories down.  However, the damage to their career has already been done.

The way you present yourself at corporate functions can help to further, or derail, your career.  Here are 7 tips to help keep your career on track throughout the holiday season:

  • Dress appropriately.  Even though it is a holiday party, you are still attending a company function and representing your employer.  
  • Eat before you have an alcoholic beverage.  While you may think you can handle it, do you want to get proven wrong at this year's holiday party?  Eating first will help slow the absorption of alcohol.  
  • Know your limit for alcoholic beverages.  Stop drinking well before you have reached it.  A great drink to switch to, or have if you are a non-drinker, is cranberry juice and seltzer with a twist of lime.  (Secret:  It looks like a real cocktail.)  
  • Dance and be social.  However, resist the urge to completely let your hair down and party like a rock star.  
  • Develop your internal working relationships.  Sitting with your staff is nice, however you see them every day.  Take this opportunity to introduce yourself to, or further your working relationship with, someone from another department.  
  • Introduce yourself to senior management and build strategic relationships.  These relationships can turn into career growth opportunities.  Let them know who you are, and what you do.    
  • Expand your network.  At a vendor's party, meet the other customers.  Connections within, and outside of, your industry are invaluable.  

Remember, you are always being observed -- even when you think no one is watching.  Your ability to handle yourself appropriately in social settings, network, build and develop strategic relationships, and demonstrate social and executive presence are all taken into consideration for leadership positions.  If they are going to talk about you after the holiday party, have it be for the right reasons.

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