Do you find yourself in an awkward or uncomfortable situation when asked to attend a business holiday party, celebration banquet, or networking event? Or, do you see these events an opportunity to party and let your hair down! In either case, always be mindful of maintaining your reputation, and the reputation of the company or association that you represent.
Business-related social activities are extensions of your business day. They are a necessary part of any organization’s growth and should be treated with the same level of professionalism. They are as much about building relationships as they are about content and should not be misused. Keeping this in mind, remember that you are always being observed; you should maintain a professional demeanor always.
Networking also offers a wonderful opportunity to meet people outside the usual business environment in a fun and relaxed way. They bring everyone together and allow different facets of one’s personality to shine. Sometimes these get-togethers allow you to reconnect with colleagues that you know but have not seen in a while, or with whom you have only shared e-mail or text dialogues. It is a chance to make connections that can help your career and show that you are a well-rounded person with interests other than work.
Nine Tips to Protect Reputations
Tip #1: Dress with good taste—always! Attire should complement the event. Formal networking receptions might be a fun time to wear your more glamorous clothing or to display the more creative (fun) side of your personality; however, if what you are wearing is too revealing, you risk making others uncomfortable, being captured for others to share on social media (an embarrassment) or being viewed in a less professional manner when you return to your office. Whether casual or formal, dress with good taste!
Tip #2: Your spouse or date is your date! If wives, husbands, and singles are present, be respectful. Do not cross the relationship line by turning a networking social into a controversial reality show or dating game.
Tip #3: Protect your reputation. Your behavior can demonstrate the social skills that will get you promoted or brand you as the social horror story. Worse yet, a poor display of behavior could end up on U-Tube or be the topic of discussion in the company lounge. It’s your choice!
Tip #4: Mingle and socialize! This is your opportunity to meet a wide range of colleagues, vendors, and prospects. This is how referrals happen and new doors open. Everyone knows someone, and that is the foundation of all referrals. People like to refer people whom they know and like.
Tip #5: Upon arrival, mingle! Do not cluster with the same group of people. You already know each other! Instead, be a people connector and make sure everyone is having fun! By taking the initiative and making sure that everyone is interacting, you will demonstrate impressive leadership skills and social prowess.
Tip #6: Keep conversation positive and confidential. Avoid controversial topics. Derail a topic (or joke) if it is heading in a damaging or uncomfortable direction. Also, avoid the temptation to disclose confidential information, which is easy to do if your gossip side surfaces and/or you have had too much alcohol. The competition could be present in the person of a husband, wife, or friend of a guest. Make sure that your conversations are lighthearted.
Tip #7: Be discreet with your technology. Make the people around you your priority; not your cellphone! If you must make or receive a call or text, do so privately. Turn off your cell phone to avoid rude temptations. And, if you plan on taking and posting photos, be sure you have permissions.
Tip #8: Be Selective with your Hors d’oeuvres choices. Select items that make it easy for you to mingle and greet with a handshake. The food you select should be determined by how you are going to eat and work the room. Will you be walking around, standing at a high top, or sitting at a cocktail table? For example, if you are walking around select only finger food—morsels that can be eaten in one or two bites. If you are standing at a high top or at a cocktail table, you can select foods that are more challenging or messy.
Tip #9: Drink alcohol responsibly. It can take over an hour for your body to process one alcoholic beverage. Always drink alcoholic beverages in moderation. To control your body’s alcohol intake, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage—and eat food (never drink on an empty stomach). Stay in control of YOU.
Remember! A good reputation takes years to build. However, it only takes one negative incident to destroy a professional’s stature within the business community with clients and peers. Professionalism is paramount.
Post Submitted by Gloria Petersen