3 Corporate Holiday Party Tips November 19 2015
The, “Storage is Full” message pops up again, as another Work Holiday Party Invite squeezes its way into your inbox. Although this may be a First World Problem at its finest, Work Holiday Parties were always a little nerve wracking for me. On one hand- wow what a great way to show off another fabulous facet of my personality, on the other, what if I show off another “fabulous” facet of my personality (read Miley Cyrus twerking on a hammer). Either way, I had to come up with 3 easy tips for young corporate female me to survive The Corporate Holiday Party!
TIP 1: The Look
Girls, I know you’re on fleek on the regular, but let’s think this through for a minute. Like it or not, everyone judges everyone on how they present themselves- it’s called your “Brand”. In fact, most people will think they have you figured out within the first few seconds of laying eyes on you. Certainly, how you look is not everything, but when you consider that communication is 90% non-verbal, your visual impact does account for quite the punch.
Think of your look as your introduction, and consider who you’re introducing yourself to- your VP? Your Director? Maybe a hiring manager from the next team you’ve been eyeing? That is why, I find simplicity is best. I want to share the part about myself that speaks eloquently on an initiative mentoring new immigrants to find a place in corporate world or raising over $2,000.00 for Cancer Research. I want to laugh at a clever joke that totally didn’t over my head, and inquire on people’s secrets to happiness. This evening is about showing off your brand- not someone else’s meaning Louis, Christian and Celine, you’re staying home tonight!
I put this look together that would look great at any party. I love it’s classic, menswear, inspired silhouette in a colour that is festive and an ever so subtle pattern. It’s polished, tailored and I bet will prevent any wardrobe malfunctions later on in the evening. Paired with some serious hardware, I’ve chosen Rose Gold to add a touch of sparkle from head to toe and a smart little clutch to carry all my sundries. The makeup is a little more daring than I’d normally wear, but it stirs up glamorous images of starlets from a bygone era. The hair is swept into a neat little chignon at the nape of the neck for an added feminine touch. Simple and elegant is the way to go, so your personality shines on.
TIP 2: The Conversations
This is a tough one for sure. It’s hard enough being funny, witty and charming normally, but after a few drinks- let’s just say the execution fails even the best of intentions. Remember, that although this is a social event, you still need to see these people the next day, the day after and the day after that. Keep subjects light and relatable like mutual interests if you know what they are, or always keep it safe like simple conversations about the weather or your surroundings. I know these sound generic, especially when I laid heavy emphasis on building your personal brand, but conversation is a fine art. If done incorrectly, next thing you know, you’re running off on a few drinks and sharing your crazy conspiracy theories best left having with your kitty alone. Once a rapport is built, then it would be a bit more appropriate to move one.
A conversation is just as much about knowing what not to say as much as it about what to say. Think of chit chat like hosting a guest. You want them to feel comfortable, well liked, appreciated etc. and the best way to do that is by listening to them and giving them as many opportunities to let us know our present company. In fact, in most social situations, I tend to be on the quiet side, more so than in my real life, because it’s far more interesting for me to know someone else. Imagine all the wonderful things they could tell you about their travels, or careers or how they do things- it’s really a horizon-expanding exercise.
Some conversation pitfalls can certainly come out of nowhere. An innocent conversation about current events could easily go sideways. I recently shared a car ride with a friend of a friend who somehow went off on a tangent on Syrian Refugees being a Trojan Horse for ISIS and that we should keep them out of our country. As vehemently as I disagreed, it wasn’t a time to get into an argument and ruin the vibe, I simply switch to different topic – in my case, luckily, Sir Mix A Lot came on and baby got my back, and our fun happy vibe was restored. I always find it best to stay away from heated polarizing topics like politics or religion, and sharing way too much about my life. Sometimes, saving your 2 cents is 2 pennies earned!
TIP 3: Restrain
Restrain, restrain, restrain! This- I cannot stress enough. Although this is a party, let’s face it, it’s still work, and if you must turn up, do it somewhere else afterward. This may seem like common sense to many, but believe me, it certainly isn’t to all. There have been countless events where, my palm hit my forehead for the fool to the right of me. From frat boy antics like ripping off a table cloth and swinging it around like a bull fighter to winter wonderlands in bathroom stalls, I have seen my fair share of “What were you thinking.”
Usually at larger companies we have open bars at our functions; as tempting as that may be, keep in mind the context of where you are. I have a buddy system with a good friend to let me know when I’m on the verge of 1 too many drinks, and vice versa. Getting drunk is never cool at work parties and can be a real career killer. The next day, you want to be remembered for all the right reasons, not making out with Bob from accounting in a cab, or throwing up outside the venue (real life examples btw). The reality is, people will get penalized or even let go for bad behavior at these events.
A less obvious area that requires restraint is talking about work! I get it, it’s natural and you work with these folk. That guy hasn’t responded to your email, the lady next to him stepped on your toes in a meeting and you want blood, I get it. However, nothing is a bigger buzz killer than to be reminded of that pending spreadsheet that’s simply not going to fill itself out and might make people shy away from you. In fact, you may think you’re displaying your loyalty and work ethic to the company by doing this, when in reality it could be hurting you. A major influencing factor on who gets promoted is an employee who demonstrates a well-rounded work life balance. They want to see someone with different interests, who lead in their community and enjoys the joie de vivre.
Which brings me to my last bonus point- Have Fun! These events can sometimes feel like being forced to mingle with your leadership team, without the safety of a purpose-filled meeting. The lack of structure alone, can easily take someone out of their comfort zone. Preparing yourself for these events, like you would any presentation, will give you the confidence to shine on as the night is long. Simply show them the facet of your personality that everyone knows and loves- combine that with rocking work and you’re set to navigate this corporate world.
A true Atypical A-Type, Danielle is a laid back go- getter with a true passion for everything lifestyle. Leading a Team of Engineers in the telcom world during the day, and pursuing everything lifestyle at night, she definitely has a dollar’s worth of “2 cents” to put in! She draws inspiration from the fashion, design and even mentoring new immigrants in Canada- grooming them for the work place. Powered by coffee.