5 essential networking tips for office parties

By Robert Half on 7th December 2016

Before your holiday officially begins, you’ve got one last task to take care of at work: making a good impression at the upcoming company holiday party. However you may feel about tinsel and twinkly lights strung all over the office, the office party is a great opportunity for networking.

Here are five networking tips on how to get the most out of your company’s holiday extravaganza:

1. Check the dress code

Not all holiday parties are created equal. If this is your first holiday season with your current employer, ask your co-workers if the event is formal or casual dress. In any case, err on the conservative side in terms of both style and colours. This is a useful networking tip for any event with your colleagues, remember you're not in your local pub.

2. Shake hands with strangers

Chances are you’ll see a few unfamiliar faces at the office holiday party, such as employees from other departments or your colleagues’ friends and family. Make an effort to network and connect with people outside of your team. Executives and board members usually attend holiday parties, so maintain a friendly yet professional manner. Don’t forget to bring along a few business cards to hand out to new contacts. Your efforts at networking won’t work out if your co-workers’ can’t remember your name the next day. 

Related: Are you networking effectively?

3. Resist the temptation to overindulge

You’re off the clock, so pick up a glass of prosecco or beer and enjoy a few laughs with your colleagues. Try not to make your colleagues hate you by serenading the CEO with an off-key version of your favourite festive song while everyone cringes in embarrassment (or, worse, records it and uploads to YouTube). Keep the liquid cheer to one or two glasses and save your brilliant singing for family functions. 

4. Keep the conversation light and friendly

You talk work all day with your colleagues — the holiday party is the time to get to know one another better. You might discover a colleague shares your passion for golf, or another has a few great new thriller author recommendations for you. Steer clear of potentially hot-button topics, including politics, religion and social issues. Venting about the company or your boss is also a bad idea, as you never know who might be listening. 

5. Follow up with your new connections

If you made lot of new connections at the holiday party, be sure to follow up promptly while their memory of meeting you is still fresh. Connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media, and keep that personal connection going. Invite your colleague to a round of golf, swap thriller novels with your new connection and invite that singing co-worker out for a night of karaoke … with a strict “no recording” rule, of course.

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