I often talk of how much success in business depends on building strong positive relationships. Relationships with clients and prospects is obvious, but equally important are the relationships you build with your co-workers and your boss or manager(s). At this time of the year, you have one of the best opportunities to enhance relationships at your office: the office holiday party.
Building those relationships starts by being sure to respond to the companyís invitation right away. If youíre not sure you can attend, contact the organizer anyway to let him know when you will have a firm answer. If the invitation is vague about whether or not to bring a significant other or spouse, ask when you reply. Nothing would be more embarrassing for you and your S.O. or spouse than to have him or her be the only non-company employee at the party.
Once you arrive, be sure to say hello and introduce your S.O. or spouse to your boss and to the people you work with. How you treat your partner will reflect on you.
Circulate. It may be comfortable to make a bee-line for colleagues whom you know well, but think of the party as an opportunity to get to know other people in the office with whom you donít regularly interact.
Donít just talk shop. Use the holiday office party as an opportunity to get to know colleagues and your boss on a more personal basis. Engage them in conversation by finding out about their interests.
Each year I hear from organizers who are frustrated by employees who think itís okay to ask for a ďdoggie bagĒ to take home. Itís not. Enjoy the food while at the event. But even asking if you can have a plate of food to take home for yourself or your family is inappropriate.
Be careful not to over-imbibe in alcohol. Office parties often come at the end of the workday. If you havenít eaten in several hours, you may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol than you expect. Unfortunately, those effects can be noticeable to others well before they are noticeable to you. You donít want to do or say things that you will have to apologize for the next day. Think of the office holiday party as a business event rather than happy hour with your friends. Best advice: follow the one-drink rule.
As the evening winds down, take notice of people starting to leave and plan your own exit so you arenít the last person at the bar or food table. Then as you prepare to leave, be sure to thank your boss and anyone involved in organizing the event. You might even send a note the next day thanking them again.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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