3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Holiday Party

It’s officially holiday party season – woot woot! I know we’re knee-deep in reflection and being thankful, but party time is right around the corner.

Holiday parties used to be a big deal. And the bigger the company’s revenue, the bigger the event was. After the crash in 2008, many companies have scaled back their party budget and perks, but still have some sort of year-end celebration. While the ostentatious-ness of the occasion may have been subdued, there is still a right way to party.

I’m not going to point out all of the things you shouldn’t be doing while celebrating, you can read all about how to shake your tail feather and what gift to get your boss here. Instead, I’m going to share three ways to make the most of your holiday party, and how partying can propel your career to the next level.

3 Ways to Leverage Your Holiday Party

Many of us attend several holiday parties – this advice can be applied whether you are going to your office party or a friend’s party. Essentially, these parties are a great informal way to network and learn important things about your performance and career trajectory.

1. Meet People You Want to Know

It’s so easy to stick to the people we know when we arrive at a party – we want to drink, be merry, have fun! But by doing so, you are foregoing the easiest “networking event” out there.

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Setting Yourself Up for Year-End Success

Somehow we’re already in the fourth quarter busy planning our holiday vacations and realizing exactly how much we need to start doing to achieve our annual goals, which of course has us questioning “where did this year go?” The last two months of the year are probably the most important months for your career – it’s you last opportunity to make an impact, achieve milestones that seem light-years away, and continue to tell the story of who you are as an employee.

Unfortunately, it is also the time of year that we are soooo close to wanting to check out – vacation, take a break, slow things down a bit as much as possible. While there is definitely some room for that, you also need to set yourself up for year-end success.

Writing Your Own Story of Success

1. Start Gathering Your Successes

Even though you know at the beginning of each year that you should be accumulating your successes as they happen, work can be too busy to keep that practice up. Now is the time to start compiling and gathering – so you can start crafting your performance story.

Look back at the projects you’ve worked on, the milestones you’ve achieved, the feedback you’ve earned – and make a list. This will be the backbone of your story – think of it as an outline of sorts for your self-assessment or year-end review.

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How to Guarantee You Won’t Get That Promotion

Getting promoted is more of an art than a science. Long gone are the days of simply counting the number of days you’ve been in your role before getting bumped up to the next level. Unless you’re working for the government or a relatively small number of companies, your tenure in your position will not automatically qualify you for a promotion.

My guess is that if you have not yet been promoted, you are going about it the wrong way. Here are a few sure-fire ways to guarantee you won’t get that promotion… and what you should be doing instead:

1. Thinking Your Work Speaks for Itself

This is the biggest mistake you can make in your career — sitting back, hoping your work will speak for itself and be recognized. Thinking other people are noticing how awesome you are will get you passed over for a promotion, each and every time.

Think about it: in our culture, we tend to only take notice when things aren’t working well, not when things are going swimmingly. You’re expected to deliver at a high level — that’s the basic expectation your manager has for you. So unless you drop the ball, your manager isn’t really noticing — or talking about — your incredible work.

You may get noticed by a few people by sitting back and doing the work, but it will not put your name at the top of the conversation when leaders are seeking someone to fill the shoes at the next level.

Action: No one cares about your career more than you do, and that includes your next promotion. It’s time to put on your PR hat and start talking about the work you’re delivering. Not in a crazy annoying way, but you can subtly start mentioning the results you’re delivering, new ideas you’ve implemented and ways you’ve contributed as a team member during team meetings, casual conversations or recap summaries. Be your own advocate — don’t wait for someone else to see you.

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What It Means to Be Professional

It was my first day in a real corporate job, I was wearing my business professional (you can’t go casual on day one) outfit, ready to conquer the world. I looked the part, acted the part, but was not feeling the part. I was in the “fake it ‘til you make it” phase of my career – trying so hard to be “professional.”

I’m not really sure where I got the impression that I had to be buttoned up at all times when at work, but it had a long-lasting impact on my career and overall “self.” We are inundated with nuggets of advice like “dress for the job you want,” and act as if you are already in the next position. Decent advice, but how does it all fit into your idea of being “professional?”

I went along with the set expectations of the professional working world – wearing black pants with a suitable blouse daily, answering emails instantaneously, and using acceptable pen colors and notebooks. In other words, I complete erased my own identity at work in the name of being professional.

Looking back, I often wonder if my unhappiness in my corporate world originally stemmed from having to hold back so much of myself, in order to climb up the ladder. I was just so tired of muting my personality and love of color, to live up to someone else’s idea of being professional.

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Learn to Get Along with HR

Being able to forge a healthy relationship with Human Resources — ahem, HR — is a critical step in the development and growth of your career path. But often, people tend to duck and hide or flee the path of HR for the fear of receiving bad news.

Here’s the thing: if you are the one ducking and hiding, you’re missing a huge opportunity to build an important relationship with a key influencer. Not to mention, you’re hurting HR’s feelings.

It’s easy to get along with HR — if you approach it the right way. They want to be friendly with the people they support… up to a point. But at a minimum, they want to get along with you. Here are five ways to get along with HR:

1. Remember HR Is Made of People

This is easy to forget because the perception of HR is of cold, calculating old ladies ready to kill your career aspirations, but the HR department is made up of people. They come to work for the same reasons you do. They have families and lives and their own dreams.

People make up HR — and just like other people, they want to be liked and respected. The easiest way to make a connection with your HR partner is to treat them as you would any other person.
Say hello to them when you cross paths in the hallway instead of scattering. Ask them how their weekend was at the water cooler as you would with your cube-mate. Remember that they’re people first, HR second.

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