Fa La La La Network Time: 7 Ways To Optimize Holiday Work Parties
NBA Superstar LeBron James may have slept through his team holiday party, but most of us cannot afford to miss the spectacular opportunity of a gathering of colleagues, clients, owners, managers, administration, board members, team members and friends to make a move up or just enhance the present.
This is not going to be a reminder about good behavior in the space of delicious cocktails—because you know better–but it is a set of tips and strategies about setting yourself up, presenting your value in a new light and making sure who needs to know you gets the chance to chat.
No one wants her holiday office party to devolve into a catastrophe bash from “The Office,” so to be sure you get the most of the holiday work time, follow these seven tips.
Make a bee line for the boss. “If you work at a large company, there’s often a tendency to stick with your desk mates and work friends at the office holiday party. But the same party is also a chance for you to connect and network with senior managers that you might not normally cross paths with in your daily routine,” writes Stephanie Ip at Province. This is your opportunity to be cordial, informal and brief and be seen by the CEO or the top brass. Do not hog face time and come off as buttering up the top dog, instead be intentional and affable and have a clear message about who you are and what you offer.
Acknowledge your co-workers, and salute good work. That means doing some prep ahead of time and finding out that a project produced distinct outcomes over the year and that you see the hard work. Do not waste the opportunity with small talk. If you are seeing remote workers for the first time in a long while, or even if workers from across the country are brought together, make sure you ask what they have been working on and appreciate the efforts. Talk about yourself and what you are proud of doing this year, but do not take up all the space.
To be real. “’Authentic’ is a word on repeat, for good reason. Everyone can see through someone who is pushing his or her own agenda or trying to ‘work the room’ to do business. That’s not smart,” writes David Olk in Entrepreneur. “Spending time with people and getting to know them better is the true catalyst for relationship-building. Use this fact at each event as a chance to really learn about the person in front of you.” Of course you do not want to be seen as the person who is out only for herself, but you also do not want to be seen as someone who has nothing substantive to say and is only capable of in the moment small talk.
Share a new idea. This can be something you are launching soon or only thinking about and want input. This is a fertile ground from brainstorming informally or setting up a time and place for the coming weeks and months. It can be as simple, as you saying you want to plant some seeds about an idea you have and get feedback. You want to have the reputation as someone who has fresh energy and is forward thinking.
Meet someone new. Whether this is a new hire, an intern, a client or the spouse of a co-worker, make sure you are friendly and inclusive. That speaks to your ability to work well on a team and people will notice. “This seems self-explanatory, but the whole point of networking is to expand your connections base, by making as many contacts as possible. This includes getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people, according to Marsha Gordon president and CEO of the Business Council of Westchester.” She adds, “Be sure to meet new people at each event. So often, we see people just talking to friends, coworkers. Go up to someone you don’t know and say hello. They will appreciate it, and it may lead to your next client!”
Mind your nonverbal cues. You know not to scowl, stay in the corner alone or always be in the drink line. “But did you also know that slow onset smiles lead to even more positive reactions? So, rather than approaching people with a grin, begin with a slight smile and let it grow organically,” writes Carol Kinsey Goman in Forbes. “If you want people to see you as comfortable and approachable, don’t cross your arms and legs or use objects (your drink or plate of food) as a barrier. Doing so makes you look guarded or insecure. Instead, hold your glass or plate to the side of your body so that the core of your body is exposed. Above all, resist the urge to check your email or texts. Instead give other party-goers your full attention.”
Be grateful. Spread the cheer by toasting the founder, the new hire, the administrative help, even a colleague you may compete with fiercely. Have a mental script ready if the occasion arrives for a full toast to the whole room, but you can also do the same one on one. “Here’s to a great year and an even better one ahead,” you can say to the person in the closest cubicle. And if you are the one being toasted, then definitely be grateful. “If you’re a top performer at your company, you may be honored in a toast the party. If so, graciously acknowledge the honor, but don’t drink to yourself—and be sure to thank the person who recognized you. In general, make sure you’re staying engaged during the toasts; don’t make any side comments to your coworkers while the company president is speaking,” writes Kerry Close in Money.
And if you are in search of a meaningful way to celebrate the holidays and benefit Take The Lead, please join us December 15 for the special matinee performance of “Gloria: A Life” in New York. The second act features an engaging conversation with Gloria Steinem and Gloria Feldt, Take The Lead co-founder and president.
A generous donor has bought the house, so every donation goes to Take The Lead’s many programs and offerings. Take The Lead is offering you multiple options to contribute andtake part in the festivities.
And if you are not in New York? Your gift offers the chance for a young woman to attend the performance and learn about the legacy of feminism as well as critical strategies for the future. Find all the details here. Here’s to Take The Lead this season!
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com