Well—once again, the holiday season is upon us and that means office and networking parties.
For some, these can be a drag; for others, it’s their time to shine! Of course, you want to be the latter while having a good time too.
Over the last 30+ years, I’ve attended many of these events—as an employee, a senior executive and now as an expert advisor. It’s easy to spot the people who know what they’re doing as well as the ones who don’t.
Here are 7 signs you party and network like a pro:
#1: You know this is not the time to discuss business.
You relax and enjoy yourself, and let others enjoy themselves too.
People have been working all year long and want to have fun. They don’t want to hear about the new Excel spreadsheet you just developed or the 50-page report you wrote on office ethics. They definitely don’t want to hear you complain—about anything or anyone. It’s annoying and reflects poorly on you. What people want to see is your fun side.
#2: You’re sociable, so you easily mingle.
In other words—you’re not always glued to your teammates. You spend some time meeting new people. Even tech and finance people tend to loosen up at these events, so introduce yourself to a few. Often, I’ve been surprised at how uninhibited people are outside the office.
The holidays are a great time for building new relationships, so start building.
#3: You know how to introduce yourself.
This may seem so simple, but it is so important, and often overlooked. It only takes seconds for people to judge you, so make the first contact count. Remember: this is not just about you. It’s about your impact on others, and how you make your audience feel.
When you are meeting someone for the first time, stand, make eye contact, smile, and shake hands, saying “Hello, I’m [your name], it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Yes—it’s that simple.
#4: You know no one likes a suck-up.
Especially your boss. I’ve watched people go out of their way to impress CEOs and VPs—I’ve even been on the receiving end—and I can tell you it’s uncomfortable. It feels too staged and manipulative–probably because it is!
Trust me, if you don’t think you’re transparent, think again.
#5: You don’t get sloppy.
Over the years, I’ve seen employees and executives do some pretty foolish things at parties, such as using their fork as a back-scratcher or falling drunkenly backwards into a potted plant. In today’s highly connected world, where an unflattering picture or video of you can be taken instantly and live on social media forever, you’re as much a target for risk and ridicule as Lindsay Lohan.
Remember–this is still a professional event. Save the Red Bull and vodka concoctions for another time.
#6: You’re considerate of the help.
For some reason, when certain employees are let off the leash, they go wild. They think because their party is being given by their company, it gives them license to be rude and demanding—especially to the wait staff. Trust me, it doesn’t go unnoticed. In fact, I know a hiring exec who wouldn’t promote a person because he witnessed this kind of behavior. To me, it signals how you would treat subordinates if you had the least amount of power.
#7: You leave a positive lasting impression.
Just as you don’t want to get sloppy, you do want to be memorable in good way. I have often been told that my personality is a big part of my skill set, and I think that may be because I love making people feel good about themselves. I understand when they’re shy or uncomfortable, so I make it a point to help them open up. It’s amazing the impact this has.
Remember: How you present yourself to others in the business world speaks volumes—and you want to be spoken of as a pro. Even at parties and events, your professional brand is your trademark, which will follow you throughout your career.
So–party like a pro, not like a schmo!
Copyright 2013, 2014 Michelle Kerrigan