Conquering the holiday office party doesn’t just mean keeping track of how much you drink. Seasonal social events can be the best opportunity to network within your company, so you may want to consider veering away from the buffet line.
“Whether you’re the life of the party or full of social anxiety when it comes to holiday events, it’s important that you go into them armed and ready to make the most of your time with every holiday well-wisher you encounter,” says Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of the recently published book The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life.
Kuzmeski gives these tips for maximizing workplace merrymaking:
• Everyone, from your company’s CEO to your top client’s boss, is likely to come out of the woodwork for this party. Think about which contacts are the most important to you, and make a point to speak to each of them over the course of the night. Do some research ahead of time to learn about the attendees so you are prepared to engage in conversation with them.
• Ask questions and be sure to have more in your arsenal than small talk. After you’ve asked about how they’ll spend the holidays, move on to more in-depth business questions such as what they see as their biggest work-related challenges, the best thing to happen to their business this year or something they’ve done to change their career.
• Be prepared to pitch yourself in 15 seconds. Resist the urge to give a long introduction, and instead highlight your career and top skills. Be creative and think about how you can frame your accomplishments in a way that gets other guests’ attention.
• The party may end, but your connection shouldn’t. Keep track of all the connections you’ve made, including reminders of interesting or remarkable things that people said or that you learnt so that you can refer to them in later conversations. Be proactive and use social media to keep in touch.
Working on motherhood
You recently became pregnant and expect to continue working through the pregnancy and after-maternity leave. Although the initial reaction has been positive, here are a few steps you can take to avoid negative repercussions at work.
When is the best time to disclose the pregnancy?
Many women want to wait until they are past the 12-week mark. But depending on how closely you work with others in your department, you may feel it’s best to tell them even earlier, especially if you’re experiencing physical symptoms like nausea and fatigue. Disclosing your pregnancy early also allows more time to communicate about it with colleagues. “I think being really explicit early on about what is happening and what your plans are for the next six months, and then six months after that, helps co-workers manage their own expectations,” says Eden B. King, an assistant professor of psychology at George Mason University, US.
The physical symptoms of pregnancy are often hard to deal with at work. How can you deal with your need to use the restroom more often or handle bouts of fatigue without appearing unprofessional?
Marjorie Greenfield, an obstetrician and author of The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book, advises combining trips to the bathroom with other places you need to visit. When in meetings, sit near the door so you can make a quick escape if necessary. “About 70% of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting,” she says, “so make yourself a bag of emergency supplies to combat that”—such as ginger snaps, dry cereal, crackers, hard lemon candies and mouthwash, “and an extra blouse, in case it gets stained or sweaty”. In dealing with fatigue, ask about working more flexible hours, so that you can come in later and get a little extra sleep. Some women also try to plan time off at the eighth or ninth week, which tends to be when symptoms peak, Dr Greenfield says.
If you worry that while you are off on maternity leave, you won’t be seen as a team player any more, counteract that stereotype upfront by talking to your colleagues. “Tell them your career is very important to you, that you plan on coming back, are committed to the organization and your job,” King says.
©2009/THE NEW YORK TIMES
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