It’s that time of year again: The holiday office party. You’re already stuck with these people all day. Why should you give up your “you” time for mandatory fun?
Even if you truly enjoy being with your co-workers, you don’t always want to spend your off-the-clock time with them, too. But if you’re thinking of skipping the office or department party, take a moment to think of it this way:
This party can help you in your job and overall career.
Having a more personal connection with your coworkers can enhance your professional relationships with them, and an office party is a great opportunity to get to know people in a more relaxed setting.
Not sure how? Consider these suggestions:
- Go with a vision. I know. Just hear me out. Even if you can’t change anything else about the party, from having to go in the first place to having to do the planned activities, you can change one thing: Your attitude. If you set up the expectation for yourself that you’ll have a good time, or at least not a wholly unpleasant time, that puts some of the control of the situation back on you. With control, you get confidence, and that confidence will show on the outside.
- Don’t just hang out in a corner with people you already know. It’s tempting. I do it myself. But this is a prime time to talk with someone you don’t know well or at all. You never know who may help you later, whether in this job or something else down the road. That said…
- It’s okay to have a wingperson go around with you when approaching new-to-you people. You’ll be more relaxed and you’ll have someone else who can jump in to talk while you take a much-needed few moments.
- Speaking of talking, have no idea what to say and hate small talk? Get the other person to talk instead. You don’t have to stick to work or holiday-related chat, either. This Master List of Icebreaker Questions by Liz Williams starts you off with 74 conversational ideas, including “Piece of art that moved you deeply?” and “What always makes you laugh?”
- Don’t forget the bigwigs. Have 2 or 3 key influencers you want to connect with, but keep it casual: Get on their radar, don’t jam it.
- Even if you know everyone and are completely comfortable, you can still use this time to brush up on your networking skills. Remember: At its most basic, networking is really just having a conversation.
Holiday parties can be a great opportunity to celebrate company milestones, boost morale, and do a little team-building before the new year starts. You might as well use the time to boost your own skills and connections, too.
What are your holiday office party dos and don’ts?
Adapted from this #careerchat session.
Pic from Ulrik Tofte / Thinkstock.