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How you speak, look and act at social events can have consequences on your career. Holiday parties are one of the most important places where executives and managers are rubbing elbows and where you may be seen by individuals that you may not usually run into. Here are quick tips to keep you confident and making a positive impression: 

Your voice reveals education, background, self-confidence, trustworthiness and credibility, all of which can impact your future success. Speak in a focused, motivated and confident manner.

Your attire should not be too casual or revealing as that impression will carry back to the office and can affect promotional opportunities. You still want to be remembered as the polished (and fun) individual, not for what you wore. You always want to stand out as the polished professional versus being remembered for what you wore. If you’re not sure what works best, put another shirt/blouse, dressier or more casual, different shoes and socks, and possibly a different jacket or fancy sweater, and fancier or more casual accessories in the car. If you notice others dressed quite differently from you, slip into a bathroom and make a quick change. If the invitation indicates a theme or dress code, adhere to it. If not, choose something that is still office-appropriate. Then…go in with confidence and impress them with your fantastic personality!!!

Is it OK to shoot between two or three parties? Arrive on time. It’s disrespectful to show up late, even around the holidays. There is often a schedule of events set up to start at the time indicated on the invitation. It will certainly be noticed if you’re walking in an hour or two late – not a good impression to make with your co-workers and superiors. At business social functions, shyness or indifference may be misunderstood by management as being socially unskilled. Try to exhibit friendly bravery by introducing yourself to as many people as possible. Even if you really don’t want to be there, stay at least 1/2 hour and makes the rounds before leaving. This can keep you in the winner’s circle by exhibiting a team player attitude and be good for your working relationships. If this event could have a noticeable impact on your career, be sure to spend a good length of time conversing.

Have Fun–But Not TOO Much! Many important business deals are conducted during functions outside of the 8-5 world. Holiday parties are a time to get to know individuals better, relax and have fun. They are not the proper place to promote your business. If you find that during the conversation you want to learn more about each other or meet for coffee at another time, discreetly provide a card when asked, or ask the other individual for his/her card because you would like to learn more about their products or services.

Is it ever appropriate to hand out a business card at a holiday office party? Many important business deals are conducted during functions outside of the 8-5 world. Holiday parties are a time to get to know individuals better, relax and have fun, and not the proper place to be promoting your business. However, if you find that during the conversation you want to learn more about each other or meet for coffee at another time, discreetly provide a card when asked, or ask the other individual for his/her card because you would like to learn more about their products or services. It is good business (and socially correct, if you were given it at a party) to show the proper respect by looking at it before putting it into a handbag or jacket pocket.

Conversations: Converse with a variety of people. This is your chance to talk with those you may not get to see in a typical day. It is a good way to get to know others outside of the “work environment.” Keep the subjects light and avoid gossiping about co-workers or delving into heavy topics like religion or politics.

By the way, these are good rules to follow:       
  • Be sure to thank whoever planned the celebration before you leave.
  • Keep drinks to a minimum and hold your drink in your left hand so it is always available and dry to shake hands.
  • Know when to leave. While it’s great to spend quality time with co-workers, don’t overstay your welcome. Pay attention to the time frame set up on the invitation.
  • Be sure all mobile devices are silent; “vibrate” is not good enough. Avoid placing a mobile device on the dining table, as this indicates that it has more importance than the conversation.
  • Keep a pleasant demeanor, professional conversation and enjoy!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is an international published author, national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a careercoach with Transformation Academy, LLC.  She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and “Hope at the End of Your Rope.” She is a contributing author to ten other books. She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the international Professional Woman Network. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at rita@transformationacademy.com.