The holiday office party offers a unique opportunity for employees to bond with each other and people higher up in the company in ways they can’t during the work day. It can be more than an opportunity to “let your hair down.” Company parties are a great time to make an impression that can impact your work life in positive ways.
Here are five nuggets that will help you use the party to your career advantage.
1) Don’t skip the company holiday party. Office parties are a great way to raise your visibility in the company. It’s a time when department silos are broken down allowing you time to get to know people and those in other departments you don’t encounter regularly. Skipping the party can mean missing important bonding and relationship building time with your co-workers and company leadership.
2) Don’t sit in a corner. Engage with lots of people. Sitting in the corner is just as bad, if not worse, than not going. Not socializing “disses” your co-workers and your boss. Your skills and ability might have gotten you the job, but interpersonal relationships do matter if you seek to be promoted or gain influence. And, don’t underestimate the value of likeability in the workplace.
3) Remember key employee’s names. You might not see some people in your company often enough for their names to trip off your tongue. Plan in advance, or find a trusted person at the party who can help you fill any gaps. If there’s time, consider convincing the party planner to send out the list of attendees in advance so everyone has a chance to prepare.
4) Brush up on important significant other’s names. You’ll look really sharp – probably even stand out – if you can address your boss’ spouse or significant other by name. The same goes for partners of your direct reports and key peers with whom you have and want to keep good working relationships. We all forget names, so if you can, before the party, find a tactful way to refresh your memory.
5) Plan appropriate conversation starters. Avoid the awkwardness of not knowing what to say when you find yourself stuck next to someone with whom you have no ongoing relationship. I recommend staying away from talking about work by coming up with appropriate topics you feel comfortable with and that you believe are okay with your fellow-party goers. If workplace topics do come up, go with it, but try not to turn conversations into meetings where people walk away with action items.
For more on the importance of attending your company holiday party, check out this U.S. News and Word Reports article.
End the work year with an eye toward the future!
Wishing you safe and happy holidays!