Oh, no. Your worst fears have come true. You had too much to drink at your company’s holiday party and you ended up on the floor. A “friend” captured the embarrassing incident on his smart phone and thought it would be funny to post it to YouTube and tweet the link to his Twitter followers.
Now the video is getting hundreds of views. Your boss and clients are furious to see you smashed and making nasty comments about them. You’ve damaged your reputation and personal brand.
That image of you on the floor will live on in perpetuity. Very likely there is someone who wants your job and who wouldn’t hesitate to post a video of you making a fool of yourself.
Smart Phone as Enemy
The smart phone is the enemy at a party. In this YouTube video, a young woman is supposedly dancing while lying drunk on the floor.
Remember when the Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps got caught on video smoking marijuana at a party? It caused his temporary suspension from competitive swimming. After three years the video is still posted on YouTube with over 100,000 views and plenty of nasty comments.
Don’t Let that Happen to You
Holiday parties are meant to be fun. It’s OK to let loose a little and reveal your more personal side.
Moderation is key: dress, drinking, eating. Enjoy yourself but don’t say or do things you’ll never live down. Don’t sabotage your career by thinking the office party is the time to go wild.
Avoid being overly familiar with or making a pass at that cute gal in the marketing department. The same rules of etiquette apply to the office party as they do during business hours. You don’t want to wake up the next morning and find you’re being accused of sexual harassment.
You could be harassed yourself by wearing improper attire. For women, that means ditching that iridescent micro mini-skirt and a blouse that reveals too much cleavage.
You will do well to conform to your company’s dress code. If you’re expected to wear a tailored suit or dress during work hours, then don’t change into a clingy dress or a pair of worn jeans for the party.
If your company’s dress code is business casual, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to wear sweats to the party because you think it’s OK to really, really dress down.
Make New Connections
While holiday parties can present challenges, they also provide opportunities to network and meet new friends and business colleagues.
Before the party, think of topics for making small talk: vacation plans, New Year’s Eve, the latest films you’ve seen, Super Bowl predictions or celebrity break-ups. The day’s top news could be a place to start.
Make an effort to circulate and meet other people besides those on your team. When you meet someone from your company you don’t know, give her your business card and suggest getting together for coffee or lunch. Making a positive impression with a new connection could help your career.
Don’t only watch what you drink – watch your table manners. Most likely there will be a buffet. It isn’t easy to balance a drink in one hand and try to eat food from a small plate with the other. You could end up spilling your drink on someone.
You can avoid this juggling act by sampling the goodies at the buffet table when you first arrive at the party. Then get your cocktail after you’ve finished eating. Besides, it’s better not to drink on an empty stomach.
After It’s Over
You’re about to leave the festivities. Did you remember to put your business card in the pocket of your coat? Many coats look alike. You want to be sure that you leave with the coat that you wore to the party.
Holiday parties are a lot of work. It will be a nice touch to send thank you notes to your colleagues on the planning committee. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
That’s what you want them to remember about you, and not a vision of you falling down drunk at the party.