December 13, 2009
Your company holiday party as a networking tool
In a national poll conducted by staffing firm The Creative Group, 44 percent of employers said an employee's behavior at the company holiday party can greatly affect their prospects for career advancement.
So much advice on how to put your best foot forward at the office holiday soiree focuses on the obvious: don't get schnockered, don't dress like Lady Gaga, and don't dirty dance with your boss. That's why I was pleasantly surprised to hear The Creative Group suggest treating the company holiday party as a networking opportunity to help advance your career.
"Senior managers watch high-potential employees at the holiday party to see how they carry themselves," said Megan Slabinski, The Creative Group's Seattle-based executive director. "You watch to see their social graces, their interpersonal skills, and whether they take an interest in what's going on around them."
Not sure how to best work the room at your company holiday gathering? Slabinski offered these tips:
Step away from the cubicle. Don't just huddle in a corner all night with your fellow cubicle or office mates. Get out there and mingle -- with folks from other teams and departments, as well as with the bigwigs in attendance.
Keep conversations short and sweet. It's one thing to chat up the department director. It's another to back her into a corner and monopolize her time for 45 minutes. Don't be the party guest everyone can't wait to get away from.
Skip the shop talk. The holiday party is not the time or place to gripe about your workload or corporate leadership. Nor is it the setting to brainstorm tricky project problems or lobby for a raise. Instead, stick to small talk that's not work-related.
Include significant others in conversations. See above.
Thank your party hosts. Don't skip out too early or linger too late. On your way out, remember to show your appreciation to those who organized or hosted the event.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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