It's nearly November, and that means the holiday season is just around the corner. From Thanksgiving turkey and Black Friday shopping to tree trimming, Christmas specials, last-minute gift grabbing, holiday treats, and presents galore, you may not think you have time to focus on anything but making the holidays special for your family and friends.
But wait! There's something else you forgot to add to your seemingly never-ending list: the office holiday party! Before you groan and make excuses that you just don't have any more time to spare, realize that the yearly holiday party is a perfect opportunity to connect with others in your department, office, or company whom you don't normally interact with. To get the most out of your office's next holiday party, take advantages of opportunites to network with other professionals in your field and to learn about new developments and trends as well as job opportunities.
Does this sound like a hard thing to do? Luckily, noted career expert Kathleen Brady has put together a set of seven tips on how to avoid the most common holiday party pitfalls — and make the most of your professional connections.
So, put down that egg nog and wrapping paper, and read and apply these "what not to do" tips to ensure a successful holiday gathering.
Seven tips to a successful holiday party
- Decline the Invitation. Embarrassed about being out of work, underemployed or just plain miserable at their current job, many job seekers opt not to attend holiday parties so they can avoid embarrassing questions. Solution: Push past the discomfort and go anyway. People can’t help you if they don’t know what you need. A holiday party is the perfect place to renew old relationships and establish new ones. Bring a friend, promise yourself a treat…do whatever you must do to motivate yourself to go!
- Tell Your Story Poorly. Once you have made the decision to go, understand that how you talk about your situation will determine people's response to you. It is a party. No one wants to hear a tale of woe. Solution: Craft a positive, upbeat response to the question, “what do you do?” Focus on the “DO” not the job title or employment status. Replace phrases that start with “I am…” with “I (verb)…..”
- Talk Too Much. Fearful about how to explain their situation, anxious job seekers sometimes offer too much information. When you combine over-talking with telling your story poorly, you leave others with a terrible impression of you. Solution: The best way to control the flow of information is to be the person asking the questions. After you introduce yourself with “I (verb)…", quickly ask a question to shift the focus off of you. Show an interest in others by learning about what they do. People love to talk about themselves. Asking questions that are “other” focused allows you to uncover who might be in a position to help you. It also allows you to begin to build rapport and establish relationships.
- Bad Mouth Your Employer. It doesn’t matter how horrible your current employer is or your former employer was. It never serves you well to speak poorly of the company, personnel, or products with which you have been associated. It simply casts you as a malcontent. People may enjoy the juicy gossip, but they will think twice about adding you to their team for fear of how you might speak of them behind their backs. Solution: While you don’t need to sugar coat any negative experiences, take the high road, keep your comments neutral and let your listeners draw their own conclusions.
- Distribute your resume. It is a party, not a job fair. Handing out your resume to people at a holiday party reeks of desperation. Solution: Remember your objective at a party is simply to establish a connection that provides a context for future contact. This is not the time or place to close the deal. Think about it as creating an on-ramp to building a relationship with the person. You can call to set up a follow-up meeting after the holidays.
- Collect/Distribute Business Cards. Contrary to popular belief, the person who collects/distributes the most business cards by the end of the evening is NOT the winner. Quantity does not trump quality. Simply collecting cards does not allow you to create the on-ramp to building the relationship, making it more difficult to arrange any kind of follow-up meeting. Solution: Establish a connection first! Once a connection has been established, then it is important to exchange business cards.
- Get drunk. You are completely responsible for what you bring to every situation. People must have a pleasant, positive experience of you as a confident professional. Solution: Know your limit. Better yet, order club soda with a twist.
This holiday season, get a head start on making 2014 a successful year: attend the office holiday party and make connections! Following these tips will put you on the path to professional success and productivity, allowing you to connect with others in your field and establish yourself as a member of that field. And who would have thought you could enhance your career while munching on holiday cookies?
The above tips by Kathleen Brady were taken from the following online article: The Seven Deadly Sins of Holiday Networking, written by Brady and published by BusinessNH Magazine.
For more information on Kathleen Brady, visit her website: www.careerplanners.net.