Making the most of Holiday Parties

As we come to the end of the year, many of us will be participating in holiday parties for our businesses with our companies and potentially customer/partners as well.  While some dread these events, they provide a great opportunity to socialize and network.

To make the most out of these parties, try following a few of the tips below:

First and foremost, yes, you have to go.  Unless you already have something else planned, you should attend the company party.  It is important for you to support your colleagues who put together the party and you will probably be surprised at how much fun you have in a social non-work environment.

Set boundaries.  It is likely that there will be alcohol served at the event, so make sure you set a level of boundaries and limits and keep yourself in check.  While this is meant to be a social event, impressions of your character will be made even at these after hour activities.  You don’t want to be the person that everyone is talking about in the coming days – “Did you see Sally at the party?”  After 30 years of attending these events, I can still remember people who went a bit overboard and we still talk about them at social gatherings – “Remember when Ted head butted that goat?”  Have fun, but set some boundaries and keep yourself in check.

While it may be difficult, because this is what you have in common with others in the room, don’t talk about work – this is a social event and not one to hash out the issues of the day.  Make sure you focus on building social relationships with your co-workers.  Gaining a stronger understanding of each other at a personal level will help the effectiveness at the office and make everyone more productive.

Parties are generally a good opportunity to interact with people that you don’t necessarily know or see on a regular basis.  Try not to spend all of your time with your regular office buddies.  Use this time to mingle and network.  Many people wonder if they should approach a senior executive.  While senior executives are at the party for a social event, this is a great time to interact with them.  Again, try not to focus on business, but make small talk about something interesting in the market, world events or their favorite sports team.  I have heard that the safest question to ask is about their holiday plans.  Getting to know them in this environment will help them form an opinion and potentially remember you at important times in the future.

Last but not least, be thankful and share gratitude.  In these times where everything is connected and constantly measured, we are often reminded about all of the challenges that lay ahead.  We should use this time to reflect on the progress that we have made through the year and celebrate successes.  Spend time at these events thanking others for their support and sharing your appreciation for their efforts throughout the year.  Specifically remember to thank the host and coordinator of the party.  This is often a thankless job.

So as the holidays approach, be safe and make the most of the holiday parties.

Happy Holidays!

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