Tis the Season to be Jolly - Holiday Party Best Practices!
In my last blog post, I shared my top 10 list of things NOT to do at holiday parties. This week, I am going to keep things positive and share my top ten list of things TO do. With all the family obligations around the holidays, I know that attending multiple parties and office drop-ins can seem like an unnecessary stress. But it doesn't have to be stressful. Follow this list and they can be the fun and festive occasions. Who knows, maybe they can even help with your familial obligations too!
1. Have fun
Having fun is the point of a party, so why not do it? Having fun is all about having the right mindset, so before you arrive mentally commit yourself to having a good time. You will enjoy it more and so will those around you.
2. Dress to Impress
These parties are work-related events, so make sure you dress for the occasion, whatever that occasion might be. For your first clue about attire check the invitation. If there is no mention of attire, business attire is a safe bet. Is the party at a fancy restaurant? Is it in a bar? Is it an ugly sweater Christmas Party? Whatever the event calls for, make sure you meet or surpass what is expected. This applies to your date as well.
3. Have a Plan
Having a plan for these events is always a good idea, especially if these sorts of gatherings make you want to head right for the eggnog. Having a plan will take some of the guesswork out of the equation and give you more sense of control over the evening. Your plan could include what time you plan to arrive, who you want to mingle with, and when you are going to leave. If you find yourself having fun, feel free to adjust the plan and stay longer. Just don’t be the last guest there (see previous blog post).
One of the points of the holiday parties is to allow people to get to know each other outside of the traditional work setting. Use this opportunity to talk to a few people you don’t usually have the opportunity to connect with or that you have not met.
I like to think of networking as mingling with a purpose. Remember, marketing is about creating authentic relationships. Use these holiday parties as a time to “get to know” your colleagues, contacts, and referral sources a little better.
6. Talk about Something other than Work
An extension of #5 but important to mention. These fun and festive parties are not the time to discuss work. Keep it light and use the time to get to know people. Leave the shop talk at the shop. It will still be there in the morning, I promise.
7. Leave Your Phone in Your Pocket
This will be a challenge for some of you, but something I really think can make or break a party. Our phones have become our social safety blanket. Don’t be that person standing in the corner on the phone. It can give others the impression that you are bored and not interested in being there. So put the phone away and start talking to people.
8. Stay at Least One Hour
Feel free to stay for the entire event, but I think you should commit to being there at least one hour. That’s only one episode of your favorite show. You can do it!
9. Say Thank You
Be sure to thank the people who hosted the party before you leave. A lot of work went into putting the party together and your gratitude will be appreciated.
10. Follow Up
In the days following the party, send a handwritten thank you note to the host. Also, if you met a few new people do something to advance the relationship. Connect with them on LinkedIn, send an email suggesting that you meet for coffee or lunch. Be the catalyst.
There you have it! My top ten list of ways to make your attendance at any holiday party a success. Do you have any additional tips? What has worked for you? Feel free to leave a comment below.