It’s that time of year again. More and more companies are getting back into the habit of hosting a holiday party; some are even taking the holiday spirit to the next level and hosting holiday trips. If you take part in company holiday festivities, it’s important to remember that you are at work. Here’s how you can turn a holiday party or event into a strategic opportunity for your career.
There’s some some important pre-event planning for you to do. Planning is important, especially if you’re bringing a “plus one” to the party as your guest. A guest can be a strategic ally at an event. Coach your guest about key staff you work with and what they do. You will look impressive when your guest engages in conversation, and asks relevant and interesting questions.
It goes without saying that your expectations about not getting drunk should be matched to your guest’s expectations. I recently spoke with the CEO of a $130 million company. His company holiday party was coming up; he was not looking forward to it. He told me, “It used to be fun. Now I always get ready for the drunk spouse and drama.” Make sure you and your guest are not the ones providing the drama.
Be a good listener
You may have experienced this at a business function. You are talking with someone you’ve just met. There are many groups of people around you and new people are walking into the room. You think you’re in the middle of an interesting conversation, and then the person you’re speaking with looks away from you and scans the room. What’s he looking for? A better opportunity? That’s what I think. What’s wrong with that? Everything.
Don’t you be the one doing this at the holiday party. Doing this says to the person you’re speaking with that he or she is simply not important. People will not have a positive impression of you. Is this the impression you want to create?
The only person you should be focusing on is the person with whom you are having a conversation. It is irrelevant that other more (or less) interesting or powerful people are coming into the room; it is simply not polite to be scanning a room looking for a better opportunity while speaking to someone.
This annoying habit is far more common than you would think. I won a significant sales award when I worked for a major corporation. The vice president of sales was in attendance to congratulate the winners, and he was the most important person in the room. Yet, as he was speaking to me, he was scanning the room! What a missed opportunity that was for him. Would I have thought more of him and the company had he paid attention to me? Of course. I thought far less of him after we spoke.
Be remembered well
You make an impression when you speak with others at a party. Many people miss the opportunity to make this casual time into something more productive. Your objective should always be to create a positive impression when you’re speaking with others; a sincere compliment is a wonderful way to be remembered in a positive way.
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