Before you completely let your hair down at the next holiday party or mixer, consider this: Holiday parties are excellent opportunities for you to demonstrate the soft skills necessary to take your career to the next level in the New Year!
Here are a few tips on how you can mix business with pleasure at your next holiday function!
Don’t Be A Wallflower
If you covet a corner office, you have to first be willing to peel yourself off the wall! If you’re inherently shy or quiet, use those attributes to your advantage; chances are that you’re a great observer and listener. If this sounds like you, try initiating small talk by asking your colleagues questions about their holiday plans, what they think of the food and drink spread, or even last night’s episode of Scandal, and then reciprocate with your own anecdotes and updates. All in all, the topic of conversation matters less than the fact that you’re out there being social. Remember: the goal is to make a lasting impression on your colleagues, not on the wall.
It stands to reason that cocktails will be present at the holiday cocktail party, but that doesn’t mean that you should drink as many as you can. Limit yourself to one–maybe two–drinks, and then that’s it. Remember that this is still a work function, and whether or not you intend to network, every move you make may have an impact on the overall impression you make on your colleagues. Maintain your faculties and professional image by alternating cocktails with cider, soda, or water, and keep your hands and mouth busy by chatting up your bosses, peers, and partners.
Don’t Talk About Work All Evening
Sure, you’re networking, but don’t forget that you’re at a casual social event. Instead of boring your colleagues with updates about your latest work project, chat them up about current events, your new blog, or your plans to travel. In doing so, you’ll demonstrate your ability to think outside the cubicle and perhaps showcase a few new skills and interests that may be of use to your company in the near future.
Think Outside The Cubicle
If you want to make a lateral move into a new department or take the next step in your career, you need to think outside your floor or department. Most work functions bring together employees from all over the company, effectively exposing you to a plethora of potential contacts, partners, and perhaps even new mentors. The next time your office hosts a party or event, make a concerted effort to introduce yourself to at least a handful of people who work in different departments or on different floors. Your introduction needn’t be formal; just make small talk and be sure to follow up with them with a friendly email the following week.
No one wants to network with the Scrooge at the party, so try your best to have fun! If this seems easier said than done, try smiling. Yes, it’s that simple. Several studies suggest that adopting a full smile produces a change in brain activity that corresponded with a happier mood, so go ahead and try it.