Monday, December 3, 2018

3 Ways the Office Party Can Help Your Career

Whether it's an office potluck or a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant, most workplaces have some type of holiday gathering.

You may look forward to these events as you sneak extra cookies into your pocket -- or you may dread them and plan to fake a case of malaria to get out of it. (Bad idea. Don't skip the event as no one ever believes such excuses).

While I hope you enjoy your party, you need to always remember that whether you do or not, it's still a work event. That means that if you wouldn't dance on the table during a regular work meeting, then you shouldn't do it at an office party. Still, I'm not saying you shouldn't have a good time, and getting into the spirit of the holidays can actually help your career.

How? It gives others a chance to see you in a whole new light -- as someone who is funny or makes a point of talking to the shyest person at the event. Your career can always benefit when you demonstrate a genuine interest in others.

As you don your ugly Christmas sweater or make your favorite bean dip for the potluck, here are some ways to make sure the holiday party doesn't derail your career:

1. Hang out with people who drive you crazy. You don't have to subject yourself to an entire evening of Debbie Downer's company or Loud Fred's obnoxious stories, but do commit to spending time with people you generally avoid at work. "What's your favorite holiday tradition?" you can ask. Or, introduce yourself to this person's significant other to make him or her feel welcome. Just exchanging pleasantries can help ease some anxieties for your colleagues and perhaps reduce some of their unpleasant behavior during the week if they feel a greater rapport with you. Keep in mind that you're expected to work well with everyone on the job -- you're there to contribute, not avoid people you don't like.

2. Network. People often believe that networking only takes place with those outside a current company. Wrong. You should also be networking with those inside your company because those are often the people who you run across in the future when you need a referral to another job or require information to land a new position. Never burn bridges -- only work to make them stronger. Don't neglect relationships inside your company or you may pay the price later in your career.

3. Have fun. Laughing, telling funny stories or just enjoying the moment of seeing Loud Fred do his Elvis impression is important. Jobs are often tedious, frustrating, stressful and difficult. This needs to be a time when you put all that aside and get to know your colleagues in a new and fun way. Mute your phone. Stick it in your pocket and leave it there. These moments are what will form a new and better bond with your team, and that's a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

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