Schmoozing Tips for the Holiday Office Party
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Schmooza Palooza1 of 10
By Shannan Rouss
Ah, the company holiday party, a chance to mingle with your colleagues and have a little fun—just not too much fun (last year's ice luge wasn't good for anybody). We asked the experts for their advice on how to avoid some common office-party pitfalls and make the most of the annual work event.
Name Game2 of 10
"Take five minutes before the company party to think through the names of people who are likely to be there," suggests Geoff Tumlin, author of Stop Talking, Start Communicating. "If you end up stumped on a name at the party, ask early in the conversation for the name you can't recall," he adds. "The longer a conversation goes, the more awkward it becomes to ask for a name that isn't on the tip of your tongue."
It's a Date3 of 10
Bringing a plus-one is fine, assuming you're invited with one. Just be sure to set your date's expectations. "If this is an opportunity to score some points with the brass at work, make it clear so they don't feel neglected if you leave them alone for a while or dash off to catch up with the boss in the food line," says business consultant and writer Walter G. Meyer.
Feet First4 of 10
"I find groups of three or more are easiest to join," says Marilyn Santiesteban, assistant director of career services at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. "It may sound strange, but I look at people's feet. When they're pointed right at each other, they're often more engaged in conversation. But if their shoes are at an oblique angle, they're more receptive to having others join the group."
Play It Cool5 of 10
"The most senior people often get hounded by employees currying favor at the holiday party," says Tumlin. "If a natural conversation emerges with someone from Star Fleet Command, that's great. But don't stand in line to talk to someone you barely know. Greet your boss and, perhaps, your boss's boss. After that, relax and be open to any other conversations that may come your way."
Small Talk6 of 10
"Don't ask 20 questions," says communications expert Ita M. Olsen. That can make anyone feel like they're in the hot seat. "Instead tell a quick 20-second interesting anecdote that will engage the other person." Olsen also suggests coming prepared with interesting tidbits that are only marginally related to work. Brush up on the latest relevant events so you're in-the-know.
Snooze Alert7 of 10
When you're in a conversation, make sure not to overstay your welcome. "Pay attention to the people you're talking to," says Meyer. "And if they are looking around or down or away from you, it's time to wrap up the story and let them float to another group. You don't want to monopolize anyone's time, especially the boss's."
Picture Imperfect8 of 10
Be careful of getting too snap-happy. "Do not take photos that could be incriminating to others and do not pose for any photos that could be used against you," warns Lynne Sarikas, director of Northeastern University's MBA Career Center.
Shake On It9 of 10
Helpful hint: "Always hold your beverage in your left hand to make sure your right hand is free and dry to shake hands," says Constance Hoffman, owner of Social and Business Graces.
Exit Strategy10 of 10
"If the party is very large and you can slip out without being noticed, then it's OK to just make an appearance," says Kathi Elster, co-author of Working for You Isn't Working for Me. "But if the party is intimate," she adds, "then you do need to stay for a while and say thank you and good-bye to all of the hostesses."