Be a good host and a good guest
In our last article we talked about creating a positive image of yourself and your company by making sure you quickly RSVP to your host’s holiday invitation. Today we’re going to provide additional tips on creating and maintaining that positive image by focusing on being a good host and a good guest.
Business holiday social events are times when, as part of the business, you are expected to mix, mingle, and represent your company. To make the most of this opportunity, check your perspective. Don’t view the event as a burden or obligation but an opportunity to make new business relationships or strengthen existing ones. Use the holiday social setting to meet, greet, and be a good representative for yourself and the company.
You may not be the actual event host, but you can certainly step metaphorically into the role by taking the initiative to introduce yourself to new people one-on-one or by approaching a group if that makes you more comfortable. Set a goal for yourself to greet and get to know three people you’ve not met before (hint – most employers consider such an effort a great success!). If you get nervous in social settings sometimes taking on the role of host (even if it is only in your mind) often helps give you that boost of confidence you need to take that first ‘meet and greet’ step. If you’re still stuck, ask someone you know at the event to get you started on introductions and then take it from there!
Be a Good Guest – The One Drink Rule!
Just because you are out of the office does not mean you have stopped being a representative of your company. Your actions at any social event, including the traditional holiday celebration, impact not only your image, but the image of the company. Unfortunately, the effects of alcohol are insidious. They become apparent to others long before they become apparent to you.
Because we build business relationships with our words, actions, and appearance, the effect of alcohol – or even its perceived effect – could cause you embarrassment forcing you to apologize for or excuse your behavior. In business, you should NEVER find yourself in a position for which you have to apologize for your actions. Indulging in more than one drink can put you in that position. Avoid getting into the situation in the first place by adhering to the One Drink Rule.
Now, ironically, there are two parts to the One Drink Rule:
Part 1 – If you chose to drink this holiday event season (or at any business social event!), set a one drink limit on yourself BEFORE you start drinking.
Part 2 – Always remember: You NEVER have to drink at a work event and you NEVER have to explain why you are abstaining.
Finding yourself in a position where, as a result of drinking too much, you must apologize for your previous night’s actions will always reflect poorly on you and the company you represent – no matter how graciously your host excused the behavior. One way to avoid any potentially awkward social moments is to head straight for the bar on your arrival and quietly order a sparkling water. Ask the bartender for a cocktail glass and a lime – throw in a short straw and no one will know the difference.
A Few Good Host, Good Guest Tips
Welcome people into your conversation.
Make a good first impression by taking the time to meet people you don’t know, and making the effort to include newcomers into your conversation. You know how difficult it can be to approach a group of strangers so, be inclusive to the newcomer. Get them up to speed on the group conversation and ask for their input – make them feel like a part of the group.
Don’t air the company dirty laundry.
Airing the company’s dirty laundry in a social setting hurts you and the company. Potential clients could decide not to work with you after hearing you talk about internal problems. And, instead of painting yourself in a positive light as a team player and confidante, it calls into question your loyalty and your ethics. Both situations could cost you and the company business as these actions tear down rather than strengthen your business relationships. And in business relationships are everything.
Let’s talk about food!
Most people like nothing better than to socialize over food and drink. The food and drinks provided at holiday celebrations (and most social functions) are there to make it easier for people to talk, mix and mingle. Be sure to keep your plate small – don’t overload. Remember, typically, it’s not the main reason you’re there. Unless it’s a sit-down event, don’t treat the hor d’oeuvres or light bites as dinner! Worse yet, don’t stuff your pockets or fill a plate to take with you!
Next week…. Engaging in small talk and socializing.
© SAFFIRE LEGAL/EP INSTITUTE 2016
Photo Credit © JMcQueen all rights reserved