Don’t be a Christmas party pooper

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Yes, it’s that time of year again, folks.  Mistletoe, silly outfits, enthusiastic eating and imbibing in carefully selected venues amongst colleagues, friends….or clients.  Having seen a few unfortunate slip-ups for professional people attending their own or someone else’s party, it’s perhaps opportune to offer a few rules of etiquette to ease everyone into the festive season with the minimum of fuss.  In fact, if followed, a few positives could even flow….

It’s all just you, you, you…People love to talk about themselves (and what they do)…but if you’re on the look-out to impress, it’s an activity to be kept in check.  In front of the mirror at home is good.  Having secured the usual permissions, with your nearest and dearest is often acceptable.  During an appraisal it is, self-evidently, necessary.

But at a Christmas event….we have observed some people (young and old) take the activity to negatively unprecedented levels: especially after a few drinks (see below).  Pinning colleagues or clients to a wall with little prospect of escape is not a vote-winner.  Instead, go out of your way to make your schmoozing focused on them.  They’ll enjoy it and, if you do it well, you might even learn a few useful things that you didn’t know about them.

Always ‘on’  This is one especially for when you are away from home at someone else’s ‘do’.  The saying, and quite possibly a legal precedent, goes that a police officer is always on duty: even when she or he is not (officially).  If you are at someone else’s Christmas event  be like a police officer.. in this respect.

Festive social situations have a habit of lowering the usual discretions, but it will pay to heed what our good angel always tells us – but which we can become deaf to via the “magic” of Yuletide.  Always ‘on’ means moderate drinking/other self-indulgence and knowing when to stop.  That way you will impress clients and colleagues…and you won’t be the one that we (and many others) spotted at a client party several years ago collapsed in a dishevelled heap – with a plastic flower protruding in an anatomically “interesting” manner.

Personality not push   This is hardly going out on a limb, but in the context of the season, there is a particular need to break one of the usual rules.  Normally, I encourage professionals engaging in social contexts with colleagues, clients or prospects to find common ground, talk about them/their business or issues and not be afraid to prompt the next step to a dialogue – if it proves appropriate.  Reticence to undertake the latter can be a big barrier.

However, the Christmas party is a bit different.  It should be almost entirely free from ‘shop’ talk and be about engaging with as many people as possible to allow the force and beauty of your personality to stand out, because that is a key part of what people say they buy (however cf. the caveats to this above!).  So no, it is not the venue at which you launch out on the world’s most inappropriately timed ‘pitch’.

James Newberry runs People Scope, a consultancy, training and coaching firm working with lawyers, accountants and other technical specialists to help them operate successfully outside of their comfort zones.  http://www.peoplescope.com.

 

 

 

3 tips for more productive Christmas parties

Christmas parties are not a traditional hothouse of good networking.  Indeed, the accent can be much more on other things……like getting a bit “merry”; creating karaoke hell for other party-goers; falling asleep in the lift/elevator; or attempting to photocopy various hidden body parts for the embarrassing amusement of others in the months to come.

This is a pity because the sheer volume and concentration of partying at Noel offers much potential for those looking to make new contacts or refresh old ones. But there are some specific issues to address if we are to make the most of such gains. For those willing to give it a go, here are three pointers for capitalising on the merry mayhem of the season…that don’t stop you from enjoying the event.  They apply to most seasonal business celebrations – whether internal or external.

Be the early bird…. being fashionably late to the average Xmas ‘do’ doesn’t tend to work if you want to network.  For the obvious reason that latecomers will usually be faced with a wall of inebriation from people who will talk varying degrees of nonsense that they are unlikely to remember afterwards!  Get there within the first hour and work as hard as possible before you and the rest of the party hit the wall.

Get invited to other parties – one of the most persistent moans is how ‘unjoined up’ are the various departments of many organisations.  Clients often have complex needs that cross departmental boundaries and so which can remain unfulfilled, and opportunities to do more business with them are lost.  Seasoned operators make sure that they get invited to or attend as many other parties as possible in the firm (as well as their own), where getting to know colleagues within them will deliver most return. The same goes for celebrations in relevant external organisations – in particular, those of other providers, suppliers to the firm, clients/customers, and so on.

Have an aim (or two) – this is one of the biggest universal truths of doing business and so it applies here. If you are networking, set yourself a few specific aims and achieve them early.  Make sure that they are business-like and so very different to some of the usual festive ones (e.g. “meet at least two new contacts” rather than “sink as many tequila slammers as possible in the first 30 minutes”). That way something useful will be achieved…and you can then still enjoy the party.

Christmas Party Pointers

Yes, it’s that time of year again, folks. Mistletoe, silly outfits, enthusiastic eating and imbibing in carefully selected venues amongst colleagues, friends….or clients. Having seen over the years a few unfortunate slip-ups for professionals attending a client party – either as host or guest – I thought it might be opportune to offer a few rules of etiquette to guide everyone into the festive season with the minimum of fuss. In fact, if followed, a few positives could even flow. N.B. these pointers can apply equally well to your own firm’s staff party :-).

It’s all just you, you, you, you, you (not me!) People love to talk about themselves (and what they do)…but for professionals on the look-out to impress clients or prospects it’s an activity to be kept in check. In front of the mirror at home is good. Having secured the usual permissions, with your nearest and dearest is usually acceptable. During an appraisal it is self-evidently necessary.

But at a client Christmas event….we have observed some professionals (young and old) take the activity to negatively unprecedented levels: especially after a few drinks (see Pointer 2). Pinning clients to a wall with little prospect of escape is not a business vote winner. Instead, go out of your way to make your schmoozing focused on them. They’ll enjoy it and, if you do it well, you might even learn a few useful things that you didn’t know about them.

Always ‘on’ The saying, and quite possibly a legal precedent, goes that a police officer is always on duty – even when she or he is not (officially). If you are at a client Christmas event, be like a police officer in this respect. Festive social situations have a habit of lowering the usual discretions here, but it will pay to heed what our good angel always tells us – but which we can become deaf to via the “magic” of Yuletide.

Always ‘on’ means moderate drinking/other self-indulgence and knowing when to stop. That way you will impress clients and colleagues…and you won’t be the one spotted at a client party several years ago collapsed in a dishevelled heap – with a plastic flower protruding in an anatomically “interesting” manner.

Personality not push This is hardly going out on a limb, but in the context of the season, there is a particular need to break one of the usual rules. Normally, I spend a lot of time encouraging professionals engaging in social contexts with clients/prospects to find common ground, talk about them/their business and not be afraid to prompt the next step to a business dialogue – if it proves appropriate. Reticence to undertake the latter can be a big barrier.

However, I reckon the Christmas party is a bit different. It should be almost entirely free from ‘shop’ talk and be about engaging with as many people as possible to allow the force and beauty of your personality to stand out :-), because that is a key part of what clients say they buy (however cf. the caveats to this in Pointer 2!). So no, it is not the venue at which you launch out on the world’s most inappropriately timed ‘pitch’.

And finally have a happy and harmonious festive season.