You can use your workplace holiday party to further your career if you remember to treat it as the business event it is.
You wouldn’t think a party could be a detriment to your career. After all, it’s a party.
But if it’s a workplace holiday party, it can indeed pose risks to both your continued employment and your prospects for promotion.
Mainly, this happens when you muddy your reputation by behaving in a way that reflects poorly on you. Even an innocent joke about the food, drink or venue can be taken the wrong way. So do keep in mind that your employer went to some trouble and expense to host this gathering, and act accordingly appreciative.
Of course, you should never get drunk, or even tipsy, at any workplace event. Even if it’s just your closest colleagues, don’t forget that nowadays, nearly everyone is carrying a smartphone. What goes on at a party no longer stays at the party. Not anymore.
It behooves you to be prudent with your clothing, too. A good choice is a pumped-up version of your usual business attire. Just a bit of bling — sparkly earrings, a jazzy tie — can do a lot.
Naturally, because it is a party, you’ll want to avoid talking shop. Sports, food, movies and plans for the holidays are all great topics. Ask people about their kids and they will love you forever. Conversation should be upbeat and inclusive.
A smart move is to bring along someone who reflects well on you. It’s even better if this someone is a person who can compensate for your weak points. For example, if small talk is a chore for you, choose a date who particularly excels at chitchat.
Is the workplace holiday party starting to sound like not a party at all? Well, in a way, it isn’t — not in the sense of a let-your-hair-down, have-a-blast good time. Sorry. But what it is, or can be, is an opportunity for your boss (and even your boss’s boss) to get to know you as a person with interests, aspirations and class. It’s also an excellent venue for you to make potentially valuable connections with colleagues in other departments.
All you have to do is demonstrate that you’re a smart savvy person who’s a pleasure to have around. Party on!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at email@example.com.