Prepare Yourself for Professional Parties
When it comes to successful business partnerships, the saying used to be “don’t mix business with pleasure,” but times have changed. Nowadays, it’s more commonplace to find businesses that promote the “work hard, play harder” mindset (in fact, MultiView is one of those companies), and that mindset leads to some great company and partner events and parties. But as the times have changed and the parties have gotten more lush and filled with more lushes, it’s also gotten more difficult to navigate the waters of staying professional while still showing that you have a fun side. It now takes planning, finesse and quite frankly, stamina, to survive business parties with your stellar reputation still intact.
To prevent a disastrous showing at an upcoming party, here are some tips for preparing for professional events no matter how professional or casual they may be.
What are some things you should consider or prepare for when planning to attend a professional event?
The most important part of preparing is determining the purpose of the event and the expectations of its guests. If the event is being held for socialization and enjoyment, you can expect the event to be more casual. If the event is being held to acknowledge successes and accomplishments, you can expect the event to be more professional.
Once you’ve determined the purpose and expectations of the event, you can begin preparing to make the best impression possible. Here are a few key topics to consider:
- What are you wearing? The attire is typically listed on the invitation, but it’s important to dress appropriately. Being under-dressed is just as bad as being overdressed. Being comfortable at an event will also allow you to get the most out of it. While not all events are as laid back (and AWESOME) as the MultiView Party during the ASAE Annual Meeting, don’t be afraid to let your hair down when an event is casual.
- What are you drinking? Once you know the type of event you are attending, determine how much you plan to drink. Set a limit and force yourself to abide by it. Some people think that even if drinks are provided, you shouldn’t drink at professional events. That’s really a judgment call, but by all means, if you feel uncomfortable drinking at work events, just don’t do it! The key here is really about knowing your limits. Enjoy a couple glasses of red wine, have a couple of beers, or sip your scotch straight — just play it safe, and don’t do all three.
- Do you need to arrange your own transportation? Check to see if there is accessible parking or if the hotel or event venue offers transportation. Also, make sure to arrange transportation if you plan on drinking. You don’t want the event to end with you behind bars for drinking and driving. That’s not exactly the impression you want to leave on your fellow revelers.
How do you fit in without going over the edge?
One of the most nerve-racking things about professional events is the expectation of networking and mingling. The idea of standing alone in the middle of the room surrounded by unfamiliar faces can be terrifying, but careful preparation can help you avoid this awkward situation and provide you the opportunity to introduce yourself to someone with influence and power in your industry. So, how do you make the most out of this awkward situation?
First, do some pre-gaming. No, I don’t mean slam a few shots before the party (though that has been shown to loosen people up a bit). I mean do your research before arriving at the party. That way, you already know who the attendees are, so you know which people you want to approach and which ones to avoid at all costs. Check out fellow attendees’ LinkedIn pages. Stalk them on their Instagram. Use whatever sites you can to get important information that might make having a conversation easier. Seriously, being able to congratulate someone on an achievement or award is a great way to start a conversation. Plus, you might learn about some commonalities between you and the person you are trying to impress, thus making the conversation flow a little more smoothly.
It’s also a good idea to compile a list of unique pieces of information or stories to share to break the ice when meeting new people. Having an arsenal of ice breakers will help ease your mind as you walk into the room. Speaking of preparation: who doesn’t want to avoid that awkward silence we’ve all encountered at company parties? I mean, it is THE WORST. So, just like it’s good to have ice breakers ready, having a list of interesting conversation topics is another great way to prepare. So, if a conversation starts to dwindle, either end the conversation altogether (in a professional manner — no mic dropping) or transition to a new topic to keep the party going.
What should you do if you see your co-worker making a fool of themselves in front of a business partner?
Let’s face it: Company parties are a great place to make key business connections. You change the business setting, you throw some food and alcohol into the mix to take a little of the pressure off, and you hope for the best. But what do you do if you see a co-worker making a fool of himself? That’s a tough one … no, wait … it’s really not. What you do is this: SOMETHING. Don’t just sit back and watch the whole thing play out in hopes of everyone getting a laugh out of it or brushing it off as “that night when Joe passed out on the dance floor.” It will look bad on the company as a whole, and if the situation gets out of control, there’s the chance that future parties will be cancelled. So, a) Don’t be the one to ruin it for everyone, and b) Don’t stand by and let your coworker ruin it for everyone.
Professional events are intended to be fun and enjoyable, but expectations make them stressful. It’s time to enjoy events again and that all starts by preparing for your next event in the days leading up to it. Have a plan, have an outfit and have a drink. Go in armed with knowledge about attendees and industry topics. If you walk in feeling confident and ready to network, people will be drawn to you and you will have a memorable, and hopefully productive, experience.
If you’re going to the ASAE Annual Meeting in Toronto, you should practice your partying skills at MultiView’s Party, Aug. 13 at Real Sports Bar & Grill.