The Unwritten Rules of the Business Christmas Party

It’s countdown to Christmas and you may have already been to two or three parties by the time this post is published.  I will have been to three and one was at a business association.  I had a nice time.  I met a few people,  found out a few things about what is on the horizon for the association and got to know the president a little better.

In other words,  the Christmas party went as planned.  When attending a business Christmas party,  plan is the operative word.  Whether the party is hosted by your company,  a client,  or a business or professional association,  relax and enjoy the event,  but remember that you are at work.  Focus less on revelry and more on building or renewing relationships.

Always remember that you are being watched and evaluated,  because Christmas parties have a long-standing reputation of providing a stage for outrageous behavior.  Assume that those in attendance are waiting for someone to obviously over-indulge on alcohol,  or maybe slip out of the door with someone other than her husband.  Walk in the door making a good impression by following the requested dress code.  When none is specified,  wear whatever business attire means in that organization.

Create an agenda for the business Christmas parties you attend and polish your elevator pitch.  Besides chatting with your contact at the organization  (or your boss,  if you are an employee),  make a list of two or three other presumptive party guests that you would like to speak with,  whether or not you’ve met them,  and questions you’d like to ask.  However,  do not try to consummate a deal at the party.  Aim to set up a time to follow-up at a later date.

Because alcohol is inevitably involved,  it’s best to implement your action plan while everyone is relatively sober.  Arrive early.  Get your introductions made and have important conversations as early as possible.  Have maximum one alcoholic beverage and then drink mineral water with a slice of lime or lemon,  so that it looks as if you are having a cocktail,  to prevent yourself from drinking too much.  Leave sort of early.

Along with your must-meet list,  extend yourself and meet others.  When you see someone standing alone,  walk up and introduce yourself.  Start a conversation by asking if they come to this party regularly.  Meeting and greeting are the essence of every party.

When Christmas party invitations arrive,  recognize them for their potential networking value.  Think of a business Christmas party like a conference that doesn’t have presentations,  where you can meet or maybe reconnect with colleagues,  meet a new strategic partner or clients.  Yet do not make the mistake of talking too much business at the party.  Career coach Kathleen Brady,  owner of Brady and Associates Career Planners,  advises that  at the party  “You’re trying to create on-ramps to build new relationships.”  Now go have a good time!

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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