Treat it as a networking opportunity
While it’s tempting to take advantage of the company bar tab and treat yourself to two or ten well-deserved pints, seeing your work’s Christmas party as a free p*** up probably won’t do wonders for your career. Instead, treat it as a networking opportunity. Think about it – you’ve got all the bosses/directors in the same room. They’re in party mode, the office hierarchy is temporarily suspended. This is your chance to show them that you are not just a faceless face in the crowd. You’re confident, you’re human, and you’re ambitious. Of course, don’t cling to them all evening. Take it easy but make an effort to introduce yourself if necessary and get yourself on their radar. Need some help? Here’s 10 networking tips for people who hate networking.
Whether you’re the office joker or not, try to resist the urge to wear a novelty Christmas jumper to the work party. Save that sort of craziness for a pub night with your mates. The office Christmas party is all about power dressing, especially if it’s a fancy black tie do. Trust us, you don’t need tinsel or flashing lights to stand out. You can command attention with a classic but beautifully cut tuxedo, bow tie and a few well-chosen accessories. If you don’t have a black tie ensemble stored in your wardrobe, you can hire a 3 piece dinner suit from Moss Bros for about £73, or even better, buy your own from Dobell for £89.99.
Mingle all the way
As comfortable as you feel with Dave from IT, try not to spend the whole evening with him. Break out of your comfort zone and mingle your way around the room. As awkward as it often is to muscle your way into a group of people and start laughing at a joke you didn’t hear, it’s important to try if you’re keen to make new connections and open up new doors within your company. If you’re not a natural socialite, keep your introduction simple and professional with a handshake and a polite question (are you enjoying yourself, have you tried the salmon canapés, so what exactly is it you do?) Preferably not all in quick succession.
Never give too much away
Once the Champagne starts flowing, the Christmas party can become a hive of titillating gossip and sinful confessions. Try to steer clear of these kinds of conversations. You are not here to partake in drama, you are here to show everyone just how confident, sophisticated and interesting you are. Even if you’re bursting to tell someone how loudly Karen from accounts chews when she eats at her desk, keep the bitchy thoughts to yourself. Try not to have a heart-to-heart with a colleague about your personal life either. It might feel good to get your relationship woes and financial problems off your chest at the time, but come January you might regret revealing your darkest secrets to someone you barely know.
Ask the right questions
As you mingle, remember that your main objective is to locate opportunities. What’s going to improve your working life? Do you need to build stronger relationships with your team? Do you need to introduce yourself to leaders within the company? Once you find a lead, try not to be too obvious about your intentions. Ask about their opinion on pertinent industry topics – this will allow you to show off your own knowledge and enthusiasm on the subject, but steer clear of personal topics. When appropriate, hint at your own professional goals and objectives – but keep it light and casual. You don’t want to be a complete buzz-kill.
Avoid politics, feminism and sex
Heavy conversations are best left to the pub with people you know. Topics like politics, feminism and sex can evoke strong opinions that quickly descend into heated arguments. You don’t want to miss that promotion opportunity just because you and your manager have opposing hypothetical solutions to the immigration problem.
It’s ok to have a few drinks at your Christmas party. It’s important to be able to let your hair down a little and have fun – but it’s all too easy to get carried away by the merriment. Soon a glass of bubbly turns into five sambuca shots and before you know it you’re having a Saturday Night Fever dance-off with the interns from customer service. Avoid losing all of your inhibitions by alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water. If your co-workers try to coerce you into having more, simply tell them your lemonade is a lemonade and vodka. You need your wits about you when it’s your career on the line.
Leave social media alone for the night
Don’t post incriminating photos from your office Christmas party on social media. It might seem funny at the time but your colleagues might find it humiliating once they’ve sobered up. You don’t want to find yourself called to the HR office due to complaints. On another note, don’t be that infuriating person who appears to be glued to their phone all night. Leave technology alone and live in the moment.
Explore potential romances in your own time
Work Christmas parties are renowned for dubious romances. If you genuinely feel the flutters of a potential romance then it’s healthier for both your professional life and your love life if you hold your horses. By all means strike up conversation, but leave any passionate corridor kissing or disappearing into the toilets for another night. You don’t want to be the subject of office gossip for the next six months.
Know when the party’s over
Inevitably someone will suggest continuing the party on at the local night club. Resist temptation to relive your student days on this occasion and call a cab to rescue you. Go home, file any business cards you’ve collected and sleep off your Champagne haze for a fresh, hangover-free start to your Christmas holiday. Now that you’re far away from work, the real festivities can begin.