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How to avoid office holiday party blunders that can get you fired

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The office holiday party is an excellent time to rub elbows with senior leaders, clients, prospective clients, meet new employees, and expand your circle of influence, but it’s not a party. It’s a modified business meeting. This holiday season, don’t let your negative behaviour become a topic at the office water cooler the morning after. That fate can be worse than being fired, as you may never reach your full potential at that organization and even in the industry. Here’s what to do.{{more}}

Accept all the invitations.
If you can attend all the parties you get invited to considering cost, other obligations and schedule, by all means do so. Whether they are work related or personal invites, every gathering is an opportunity to meet new people and learn. Never skip your company’s party. Remember to RSVP.

Choose your outfit wisely.
Adhere to your office dress code. If it’s a formal holiday gala, still dress conservatively. Avoid outfits that are too revealing, too tight, the wrong size or look like they belong on a fashion runway.

No selfies.
Take your selfies before the event, so you can be focused on networking.

Do not bring your family.
Unless stated, do not bring along your significant other, children, best friends or colleagues from other companies.

Bring a GREAT attitude.
Be upbeat, do not talk about your problems with your boss, your job or that you will not be getting that holiday bonus back at the office, or even how much, if you are getting a bonus. Leave the weekend/club personality at home.

Eat before you go.
Although it sounds counterintuitive to eat before attending a party, your attention should be on meeting the people. Get small portions and stay focused on networking.

Always carry lots of business cards.
This is especially important for self-employed individuals. Remember, give only one card, unless the person asks for more.

Set networking goals.
Plan to make three to five quality contacts at each event. Collecting lots of business cards does not ensure quality, just volume. Target a few key people, if you know ahead of time who will be attending.

Practise your 30-second commercial.
Be able to articulate what you do in 30 seconds or less. Keep it short and memorable.

Avoid controversial topics. Avoid religion and politics.
Talk about career goals, sports, business news, etc. Be aware of current local and world events.

Talk to senior leaders.
Do say hello to your senior leaders. If you have an idea you want to discuss, ask if you can make an appointment and make sure you are going with solutions, not complaints.

Limit alcohol consumption.
Even though it’s a holiday party, be wise when consuming alcohol. One beer or glass of wine can take you through the event. It’s perfectly fine not to drink any alcohol as well.

No twerking, please.
Maybe you spent all year finally learning how to twerk, limbo and getting people to join your Conga line, but the office holiday party is not the place to demonstrate those skills.

Socialize with new people.
Limit your time with the people you see on a regular basis or know very well. Instead, seek out the ones who are new to you. Flirting and hook-ups are not acceptable.

Follow-up.
Make an appointment to have coffee, offer information that can help your new contact, volunteer to help them or ask for advice/opinion.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.”
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Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace,
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