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11 career-limiting moves people make at company holiday parties


Mid-November often means the beginning of the holiday networking season. It’s the time to rub elbows with those you hope to get to know in the coming months. Whether the party is just within your company or you’re representing your company at another organization, make sure you’re polished and ready to play the game.{{more}} Holiday parties are perfect networking opportunities, but can be disastrous if you forget the basic rules. For over 15 years, my company has witnessed or coached some of the individuals who make these career-limiting moves. Here are a few behaviours to avoid.

1. Dressing inappropriately. A little holiday flair is fine, but remain conservative and look businesslike. Yes, you worked hard for that fabulous body, but we all do not need to see it. Choose your outfit wisely and make sure it fits you well.

2. Running out of your business cards. Be prepared to do business at any time. This is especially important for self-employed individuals. Remember, give only one card, unless the person asks for more. Saying you ran out of cards is a poor reflection on your planning and organizational skills.

3. Acting like a party animal. Even though you are at a “holiday party,” leave the weekend personality at home. ‘Tis not the time to be jolly or show off your best dance moves. Strive to maintain your professional decorum at all times.

4. Criticizing your boss or company. This is not a venting session. Do not talk about your problems with your boss, your job or that you will not be getting that Christmas bonus. Bring a GREAT attitude. Be upbeat.

5. Getting drunk. An open bar does not mean you need to try all the exotic drinks or load up on free beer. Even though it’s a holiday party, be wise when consuming alcohol.

6. Hitting on the boss’ spouse. Oh, the stories we’ve heard. The holiday party is not speed dating. Whether it’s your boss’ spouse or the co-worker down the hall, leave the pick-up lines at home.

7. Discussing controversial topics. Avoid religion and politics. Talk about career goals, sports and business news, etc. Knowledge of sports, food, current local and world events are always safe.

8. Acting like a food hog. Yes, the jumbo shrimp is usually plentiful, but don’t park yourself at the food table. It’s always wise not to go to receptions starved. Most of your time should be spent mingling, not eating. Eat, but don’t over-indulge.

9. Talking excessively. People will like you more if you allow them to talk. Listen more than you talk.

10. Rambling in your introduction. Have you ever met someone for the first time who told you their entire life story after you simply asked them what they did? Don’t be that person. Develop and practise your 30-second commercial. You should be able to articulate what you do in 30 seconds or less. Keep it short.

11. Never following-up. Don’t wait for the New Year. Call, email or write a quick note within one week to begin a dialogue with your new contacts.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.”
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