Professional Gatherings, Especially After Hours
The following ten tips of Modern Manners that will help you in your project management career:
- Pay attention to your office culture: Many companies and their employees go out for drinks on a regular basis; sometimes after work and some may even partake during meetings or conferences. However, even casual company cultures may be vastly different and alcohol boundaries vary. Depending on geography, tenure, written and unwritten policy; take time to research, adjust and learn about what is acceptable, expected, and comfortable for you and your colleagues.
- Show up! Go to these events. Perhaps you have just moved to a new city or country and wish you knew more people who could go with you. This is understandable, but this is your chance to make those connections. Research shows that by not attending events, and after-work activities with colleagues, employees can be perceived by their peers as disconnected and even uninterested.
- Eat protein before you go: Whether it's grabbing a snack at the office before you go, or having a quick dinner before you leave the house, this is a MUST do. Eating before an office-wide event will lessen the potential effects of alcoholic drinks and help you remain more comfortable and professional.
- Bring conversation starters: Yes, you all have one thing in common: work, work, and work. However, a work-related event is not the time to continue business or discuss office gossip. Keep conversation between a professional and personal balance; classy, informative, and interesting. Asking questions about sports, movies, books, vacation, travel and pets are good topics that focus the conversation on others.
- Sincerely visit with many colleagues: We spend most of our week surrounded by colleagues, so work events (with or without alcohol), can be a professionally comfortable venue to get better acquainted. Remember to branch out to meet new people in other divisions, in addition to your immediate coworkers. By connecting with multiple colleagues from all areas of your organization, you create possible mentors, references, and contacts that can help your career down the line.
- Dress sharply & authentically: Men and women alike, take note that a work party is an extension of the professional workday and is still a business setting. Dress sharply, and clean cut in an outfit that helps you feel confident in yourself.
- Be present with the phone off: Focus on the people and the event. Turn the phone off. If you are glued to your phone all night, you will miss out on key face-to-face interactions with your colleagues.
- Don't loosen up too much: Although being comfortable at these events is key, don't allow yourself to be overly comfortable. These events are an ideal avenue for colleagues to get to know more than the work-oriented facet of you. However, keep in mind that there is a thin line between sharing happy stories about your personal life and divulging inappropriate information. Remember your superiors may be surrounding you; people who can promote you are paying attention to how you are holding yourself in these situations.
- DON'T do as the boss does: Perhaps your boss really lets loose at events, clearly violating these key etiquette guidelines. That doesn't mean you should do the same. Whether it's fair or not, you are still climbing the ladder and your view is not the same as the view from the top.
- Avoid table dances: Some company events may have dancing, some may not. If dancing is a possibility, be aware of how your grooves may be perceived by those around you. Letting loose to Beyoncé after a stressful week is a sure-fire way to blow off some steam, but may not be the best way to impress your superiors. Feel free to join in with your co-workers, but remember what consequences your actions may have.