The holiday party season is here and while festive gatherings can be fun, they can also be a minefield. As a private practicing lawyer, it is important to understand the nuances of presenting and building a strong image before workplace superiors, peers and business contacts. The little things do matter and can be magnified in professional social gathering situations.
The following holiday networking tips can help you to make your seasonal engagements a marketing success in furthering a solid reputation and fostering strong business relationships.
1. It’s business. Remember that firm and business group holiday parties, are just that – business. Let this inform your behavior accordingly from how you present yourself and the topics you raise with your key influencers and superiors. Be friendly but not too familiar.
2. Show up. Understandably, not everyone enjoys holiday gatherings and can find them uncomfortable or even boring. Notwithstanding that fact, it is important to at least make an appearance at business holiday functions if only to make your presence noticed. Your absence will surely be noted.
3. Be Gracious. Mind your manners in greeting and thanking your hosts. In an office party scenario, seek out firm management and thank them as well. They are, after all, underwriting it.
4. Check the Guest List. Before inviting a guest, double check that spouses/dates are welcome. Sometimes, parties are planned for employees only.
5. Dress the Dress Code. The firm holiday party is not where you want to unveil your most form-fitting outfit. Festive is fine, revealing – not so much. The time and place of the party may drive the dress code but if you are unsure, check with your host.
6. Food/Beverage Rules. As with all networking events, it’s not about the food and drink. Enjoy yourself but limit your alcohol intake and avoid piling food onto the small plates. It can create awkward and sometimes reputation-damaging situations. Remember, this is a work-related event.
7. Maximize Networking Opportunities. Strategize how to effectively network at holiday gatherings by chatting with as many colleagues and introducing yourself to those you don’t know as well. Firm parties present a useful opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and foster new ones.
8. Mind Your Communication. Though holiday gatherings are a perfect place to become better acquainted with colleagues and superiors on a more personal level, be mindful not to dominate the conversation. Keep the conversation light and stick with safe topics. The last thing you want to do is to speak disparagingly or complain about anyone or anything. It will undoubtedly come back to haunt you.
9. Post event. Circle back with those with whom you have engaged. This is key! Make the connection you promised to, schedule a meeting to discuss further the issues previously discussed.
10. Preparing for the holidays, check these items off your to-do list:
- Be “up” on current events for the small talk that will arise.
- Carry plenty of business cards. NEVER leave your office without a stack.
- Confirm elevator ‘commercial’. Practice saying it repeatedly. It must flow easily and naturally.
Relax and enjoy yourself. Embrace the holiday season in the company of your business associates and have fun with it. Kimberly Rice