Surviving the Holiday Party

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Group people in santa hat at Xmas business party.Its creeping up whether we are ready or not.  The holiday season!  This time of year brings family and friends together, we get to shop a little more and not feel guilty, and we get to enjoy all the yummy food that comes along with the last several weeks of the year.  During this time, most companies have their annual holiday gathering.  Whether it’s an office potluck, holiday happy hour, or a formal dinner, the holiday party can be a tricky situation to navigate if you are not savvy. Here are a few things to get you through the holiday party without incident.

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Go! Sometimes your first instinct is to pass on the holiday party.  Especially if it’s after hours or may require you coming back to work and spending additional time with the people you already spend too much time with in your opinion.  Nonetheless, going to the holiday party is not “really” optional.  From the employer’s point of view, they put a lot of time, planning, and money into providing employees with an event that will allow them to socialize and connect with each other in a different setting and they want employees to come.  Opting out of the event makes you stand out in a bad way.  I can guarantee you that at least one person will ask where you are if you do not show up.  So, no matter how much you want to stay at home and watch Scandal, you must show up to the holiday party at the very least.

Mingle! Since you aren’t a “very least” type of girl; once you get to the party you have to mingle.  Resist the urge to hang out with your office BFF and branch out to chat with other people in the organization.  Politely position yourself in a conversation so that you can offer some commentary or get intel on what projects are in the works throughout the company.  The holiday party is the perfect time to meet other executives in a more relaxed setting.  This is key to broadening your network and marketing your professional brand.  You will have the chance to learn about new opportunities within the company, and others will learn a little bit more about your expertise.

Don’t Drink Too Much You knew this was coming.  Its common sense, yet most of us fall victim to it at least once in our career.  As the Millionaire Matchmaker says, there is a two drink max at all events.  I understand that this may sound a bit restrictive but it is in your best interest to go into the event with this limit in mind.  While you may be at a party or even an actual bar, you are still at a work event and you want you present your best self while you are in the presence of your peers and superiors.  It’s okay to have a glass or two, but anything beyond that could lead to you becoming a little too relaxed and who knows what may happen then.  A savvy girl will stick to this rule and monitor her alcohol limit because while it may be happy hour, you don’t want to be the sloppy drunk girl people are talking about on Monday morning.

Leave at a Reasonable Time There is an art to working a party.  You come, you mingle, eat and drink, and then you leave.  You don’t want to leave too soon and you don’t want to shut the party down.  Work the room.  Make sure that the important people see that you are there (like your boss), you socialize and meet new people, and you partake in the festivities before you roll out.  Leaving too soon (like before they call your name for the raffle you won), makes it look like the party wasn’t important and you had something better to do.  On the other hand, closing the party out and being the last person at the bar, is not a good look (and an indication that you may have failed to follow the previous tip on drinking).  The holiday party is a valuable situation where you can boost your professional brand; make sure you use it for what it is worth.

Keep In Touch Last but certainly not least, keep in touch.  The reason you went to the holiday party in the first place (besides the free food and drinks), was to stand out and make a good impression at work.  Therefore, it’s critical that you use your new stock when you get back to the office.  Continue the newly formed relationships you made with the VP of Marketing by checking in occasionally or mentioning your mutual love of Caribbean music when you bump into her in the hallway.  Do not fall back into only socializing with the same few people you did prior to the party.  Nurture your new connections and keep in touch throughout the year, you never know how it could benefit you or you could help them in the future.

For more savvy career advice you can follow Zena's blog www.hersavvycareer.com.

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