Win friends and influence people: Networking tips for an office party
Office parties are meant to give you a chance to wind down. But if you’re smart, you’ll use the occasion as an opportunity to move up.
Hierarchical boundaries are down on these occasions, giving you a chance to mingle with seniors you may not otherwise interact with on a regular basis. You also have a chance to present different facets of your personality to those you work with daily and impress them. People are usually in a good mood at these events so a little bit of preparation can go a long way.
Here’s how you can prep for the party and boost your career in 2017:
Make a mental note of people you want to meet
Your objective is not only to have fun, but meet important people in your organization who are otherwise too busy to interact with you. If you aren’t acquainted with a person you want to meet, request a colleague who know him/her to introduce you. Leveraging your relationships with friends and colleagues is a standard method of networking. You could repay your friend later by introducing him/her to someone you know they want to meet.
Decide whether to bring the spouse… or not?
Some offices extend invitations to spouses as well. This can at times prove a hindrance to networking, since it doesn’t allow you to work the party and float around freely. On the other hand, if yours is a family friendly organization, having your spouse by your side can prove advantageous.
Mingle, mingle, mingle
Remember that your goal is to mix with an array of people. While it is easy to hang around with your group/department, it is necessary to break away from them after a quick hello to put your plan into action.
This is obvious but merits repetition. Don’t chase your list with such a vengeance that you forget to acknowledge people whose names do not figure in it. Greet everyone warmly including your peers, subordinates and complete strangers. Take care not to be seen only with the bigwigs—this will lead people to think of you as a sycophant. Space out your interactions by spending quality time with your office friends and colleagues. While it is an ocassion to let your hair down, be sure to maintain a level of profesionalism.
Keep shop talk to a minimum
Never start a conversation at a party with work-related matters. Asking questions about a topic of general interest is a good way to open, a witty remark is even better. Bring up shop talk if necessary but only briefly. Move on to other subjects before you get too engrossed in office affairs.
It’s always a great idea to preplan conversation topics. Do your homework about your management team and read up on their outside interests. Are they avid fitness enthusiasts? Do they enjoy reading? Read up on topics that matter to them and make a good first impression.
Follow-up the next day
If you’ve had a long and productive conversation with a senior colleague at the party, follow it up by greeting that person the next day. Doing so will indicate your willingness to establish a long-term relationship which extends beyond a mere encounter on a party night.
Networking at the party? Remember to:
• Listen more than you talk
• Avoid controversial topics
• Carry your business card
• Keep an eye on the food and drinks zone since everyone visits it
Find more advice on how to grow your career here