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Take advantage of the holiday office party

The holiday office party is coming up, and whether you dread it or look forward to it – you can actually use it to your advantage instead of having it just be a chance to blow off steam. The party can be an opportunity to schmooze with higher ups, get noticed, or develop new relationships or smooth out rocky ones. Here are some things to keep in mind to be pro-active about your party and use it wisely to climb the corporate ladder…

1. Connect on the personal level. I believe stronger connections can be made when we connect with someone personally as well as professionally (without crossing the line of course!) Think of topics to discuss – a recent movie you saw, a local art exhibit, something new about your kids – something personal to share that shows a different side to your personality. This could also be something you use to find common interests with someone you’re speaking to at the party, to connect on that personal level as well.

2. Define your goals. In advance, determine your goals for the party. Yes, your goals. Do you want to meet a specific person who can help you with a project you are working on? Interested in establishing a firmer connection with your bosses boss? Need to smooth out that rocky relationship with Ramona on your team? This can be your chance to do so. Determine what you want to accomplish and, think about work-related points you want to bring up as well. Is it an idea about a new project, an apology you need to make, an invitation to take someone new to coffee so you can brainstorm project strategy together or just a comment on a recent contract they won just to get the conversation started? If you want to open the conversation by asking advice, ask a question even if you already know the answer. Find a way to stay in touch with them by asking them to lunch, or connecting with them on Linkedin.

3. Prepare for shop talk. Yes many people will be talking about work, so in addition to determining the personal things you can share, think about work related topics as well, including things outside the company within your industry that show your intellect or interest in your field as well.

4. Show your softer side. Sometimes the party is a chance to demonstrate your soft skills like your sense of humor, communication, or another side to your personality like personal interests. You may need to be more buttoned up at work you can let loose a little and socialize with people allowing them to get to know you on another level but also learn that you have these other soft skills so to speak.

5. Follow up. Don’t let the connection go to waste. Be sure to follow up. Connect with them on Linkedin, shoot them a quick email saying great to meet you, can you meet for coffee next week? Or if there is no specific action step needed, a simple, great to meet you hope we can work together soon. For someone higher up, consider a handwritten thank you note or holiday card dropped off at their office. Do something afterwards to solidify that connection.

6. Don’t dread it. See the party as an opportunity to further your career in some way, even if the results are not immediate. Someone may approve you for raise or help you with a promotion – great. But at a lower level, they might give you recommendation on LinkedIn or help you on a project. Either way, it can be a positive career move.

7. Act professionally. We all know this, but some people still end up being the story from the holiday office party for 6 months after it’s over. The whole time you are there, keep in mind, people are always evaluating you even if they are not doing so consciously. Whether or not you know it, or they do, they are thinking about what you are like professionally; whether you should be promoted, whether you’re a reliable person to work with, etc. You’re always on.

8. Don’t be a brown-noser. Yes you can try to make an impression on higher ups in order to get that next promotion but, don’t over-do it. Be authentic and be yourself first. Find a way to make that positive impression in a manner that fits your personality.

Hallie Crawford
Job Search Coach

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