Posted by Lisa Hamilton on Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 00:00
Q: I just joined a new law firm, and the office holiday party is fast approaching. I don’t really know anyone yet, and I want to make sure I don’t commit any faux pas. Any career advice for how to make a good impression at the event?
A: It’s normal to feel anxious about an office holiday party, especially if you are a recent hire or starting your legal career. After all, after-hour work events are in that gray zone between the professional and social. What should you wear? What do you say? Should you indulge in the boss’s infamous egg nog?
Here is our best career advice for surviving and even thriving at the upcoming holiday festivities.
1. Dress for success.
The mood will be more relaxed at your firm’s holiday party, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can dress down. The event could actually be more formal than work. Men can usually attend evening events wearing the same suits they wore during the day while women have more clothing options. If the firm doesn’t provide guidelines on what to wear, ask the advice of a seasoned colleague to alleviate your worries about overdressing or underdressing for the occasion.
2. Take advantage of the networking opportunity.
This once-a-year office event provides an unparalleled chance to network. It’s a great time to meet everyone in the firm and build your personal brand with your new colleagues. Work your way around the room and introduce yourself. You may not know many people yet, and this is the ideal time and place to build work relationships. Try this trick to keep conversations flowing: Avoid asking yes-or-no questions. Ask more questions that start with why or how. Also, most people like to be helpful, so you can ask new acquaintances for advice on good places to go for lunch or who in the firm has the best candy jar.
3. Do everything in moderation.
Regardless of what others are doing, it's important to pace yourself. Don’t have more than one or two drinks, and make sure you don’t drink on an empty stomach. It’s also perfectly all right to stick with nonalcoholic drinks. This piece of career advice can help you keep it together during a multi-hour holiday party — and possibly save you from making an embarrassing first impression.
4. Enjoy yourself.
Have a good time! It’s a celebration, after all. Show your boss and coworkers that you’re happy to be part of your new team. If you’re an introvert, social interactions can be exhausting, but keep your legal career in mind, gather up your courage and join the party.
Networking and socializing are an integral part of legal careers. The best career advice for new hires is to show everyone you’re a team player. So get out there, work the room and make new friends. Happy holidays!