It's Friday, and your boss has just stopped by your cubicle to deliver an invitation to happy hour this evening. Or maybe it's Thursday, and your coworker is asking if you'll be attending the company softball game over the weekend. Or maybe it's the holiday season, and you're being "invited" to a mandatory black tie evening at a local convention center. In any event, your appearance can elevate your social profile and support your career growth…but only if you keep these critical behavior tips in mind.
1. Eat and drink—but not too much.
The actual amount of food you consume at a work event may seem like a trivial detail, and if you aren't falling down drunk, the difference between one drink and three may seem negligible. Besides, who's picky and judgmental enough to notice when you reach for that next glass of wine or reject that slice of homemade birthday cake? Everyone, that's who. Eating and drinking are social activities, but these people are your bosses and coworkers, not your friends. Think of all this eating and drinking as part of an elaborate social dance, and pay attention to how you're coming off—Don't just obey the dictates of your stomach.
2. Pay attention to stage management.
Is this a catered event? If so, gracefully take advantage of the services that have been provided and paid for. Don't scramble to clean up, set up, pick things up off the floor, fold and carry tables and chairs, or get behind the scenes of the event. If this is a team effort, do the opposite. Pitch in and do what you can to set the stage, make others comfortable, and clean up afterwards.
Practice and polish your conversational skills. This is not the time to hover in a corner waiting to leave. This is the time to step forward, ask polite questions, listen to the answers, and channel your inner extrovert. Relax and enjoy the experience of conversation for its own sake. Don't take statements too literally, and don't become passionately invested in opinions, assertions, and speculations, especially your own.
4. Keep your face elevated.
Eyes up. Make eye contact with those who are speaking to you at close range and those who are distributed around the room. Give your closest companions your full attention, and keep a larger eye out for those who may be looking lost or feeling excluded. It may sound like a cliché, but every time you have an opportunity to smile without looking insane, do so.
5. Share the person you are outside of work.
Whoever that person may be, let him or her out for just a short spell. Keep control of the details you choose to share, but if you love your dog, you often ski on the weekends, your favorite aunt just moved to a new city, or you enjoy gazing up at the stars at night, now is the time to let your coworkers know that you're a human being. You may not have another chance for a while.
6. Make a graceful exit.
When it's time to go, there's no need to directly and personally say goodbye to every person in the room. Do this if the moment feels right, but otherwise learn to wave, nod, and head for the door without interrupting conversations or appearing sneaky.
Pave the Way for Your Professional Future
Work is a social enterprise, and as the old saying goes, your success often depends not on what you know, but who you know…and how much these people trust you and enjoy your company. Start the career building process in the events and gatherings that take place around you, and visit MyPerfectResume to apply your experience and take your career to the next level.