by Sheena Williams

Oh look! You’ve been invited to the company’s holiday party! Wait! Maybe, it’s a job- related cook out. Wait, wait… is that conference? Whatever the occasion, maybe they all have one thing in common, and it’s that they are all work-related. Sometimes, or even often, depending upon your job, you will be called to hang out and smile with other co-workers. Most of these events are not mandatory and you probably won’t get paid for going, however, think twice before you scoff and blow the invitation off!

To Go Or Not To Go — So you’ve got your invite to a company-sponsored event. Before you say no, there are a few things that you should think about. Who is going to be there? Your boss? The same man who hired you, personally invited you and signs your paychecks? I’m not saying that you should go, but in the back of your mind, please remember that these events cost money and they are not cheap.  By not going, you may look as if you are not a team player and pretty ungrateful. This team building exercise that you say no to, might be remembered when you are asking for a promotion later. Is it discrimination to base a promotion on that fact? Yes. Is anyone going to know other than the person giving the promotion? Probably not. The guy/girl who got the promotion? They went to the company barbecue!

What To Wear — Unless stated, you should always go for a business casual look. T-shirts and jeans are fine for cookouts, but don’t wear the rattiest pair of jeans you can find. Though touted as a relaxing day, you are still being judged by your co-workers and your employer at these events. You always want to look nice without looking fussy. I would NOT suggest shorts, period! However, if it does call for shorts attire, please keep them at a respectable length. You want to look competent at all times and that includes events where maybe your boss’s boss may be in attendance.

What To Avoid — Alcohol!! I cannot stress that enough! It is a bad idea to drink large amounts of alcohol at any event. One or two glasses may be fine, however, cap it there. You are supposed to be relaxing, but you should never be so relaxed that you are saying things that should be kept private. Another thing to watch out for is being put in compromising positions. There are people in this world who would love to scream harassment and sue for every little thing. Yes you are off the clock, but company-sponsored events mean work-responsible. Watch yourself and watch your back.

Who You Communicate With — Everyone! No seriously, e v e r y o n e. Make new work friends; make connections; wave at your manager. Whoever is in attendance, smile and be friendly. Even if you see a co-worker who is not your favorite person. Waving from across the room is professional and polite. Saying hello to your boss is a must and a no brainer. Saying hello and introducing yourself to the guy next to him is also an awesome idea. Why? Because that person may be your boss’s boss! These kind of events are a personal PR dream! It allows you to see and be seen and it also gives you the Who’s Who of a company’s staff.

Try To Enjoy Yourself — Relax — Be yourself…unless “yourself” is rude, impersonal, and taciturn. Relax! You are there to have a good time and to learn. You are not going to meet people by keeping yourself in the corner cowering. Even if you are not outgoing, that is no excuse to hide yourself. If you can’t relax, then others around you can’t relax. You don’t want to make the event unenjoyable for everyone, right? Right! Just take a deep breath and jump in. The less you worry about social guffaws, the less of them you will make.

With these things in mind you should be able to meander anywhere! Remember, take a deep breath, relax and try to have fun. Don’t hide, be friendly and say hello to everyone. Don’t forget to shine your shoes, and smile! △