From office-wide happy hours to office parties and corporate retreats, work events are often characterized by a more relaxed but professional environment, casual chats with colleagues, and include alcoholic beverages. Though these events are often a wonderful way to connect with coworkers and interact with the power-players, they can also be monumentally disastrous without modern manners.
Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert and founder and CEO of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, offers the Do’s and Don’ts of work event etiquette to help you enjoy the night and find the balance between personal and professional behavior.
DO Pay Attention to Your Office Culture
Many companies and their employees go out for drinks on a regular basis; sometimes after work and few may even partake during meetings or conferences. However, other company cultures may be vastly different and alcohol is prohibited. Find out what is acceptable, expected, and comfortable for you and your colleagues.
DO Make an Effort to Talk to Lots of People
You spend the majority of your week surrounded by these people, and work events (with or without drinks involved) can be a professionally comfortable venue to get to know your co-workers better. Remember to talk to people you see every day, and also branch out to new people. By connecting with multiple colleagues from all areas of your organization, you are able to create possible mentors, references, and contacts that can help your career down the line.
Do Take A Break From Your Phone
If you are glued to your phone all night, you will miss out on key face to face interactions with your colleagues. The snapchats and texts will be there when you are done. Also keep in mind that social media captures everything. Be aware of this when ordering another drink and possibly hitting the dancefloor.
DO Remember Why You Are There
Whether it’s talking to a specific superior, making new friends, connecting with people from a different department, remember why you are at the event. It’s not to take advantage of the open bar or get some free food. Keep the notion in the back of your head that this is still a professional gathering and a chance to put your best foot forward.
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.
Don’t Feel Pressured to Drink
Feeling lost due to the fact that you don’t drink? Not to worry. Always feel free to order a club soda with lime, soda or drink of your choice. Alcohol consumption should not dictate your success, but having a drink in hand and engaging in conversation with others is key. What’s in your drink is irrelevant.
Don’t Do as the Boss Does
Perhaps your boss really lets loose at events. This is not an opportunity for you to do the same. Whether it’s fair or not, you are still climbing the ladder and your view is not the same as the one from the top.
Don’t Talk About Work the Whole Time
You all have one thing in common: work. However, a work-related event is not the time to keep working 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.