3 Stress-Free Ways to Network at a Company Holiday Party

Because sometimes seeing your co-workers at parties can be awkward.

holiday party_stock.jpeg

-by Jaclyn Westlake, Founder of The Job Hop

It’s probably fair to say that most of us have a love/hate relationship with office holiday parties. We love getting dressed up, drinking eggnog, and enjoying a fun night out with our co-workers - but we could do without making awkward small talk at the bar or waiting in the bathroom line with a bunch of people we don’t really know. Awkward moments aside, socializing with your colleagues outside of the office is a great way to build relationships, make new connections, and boost your reputation at work. So, why not take this opportunity to do a little networking? 

Work the Room
There’s no better time to step outside of your comfort zone and talk to people you don’t normally interact with. Everyone is usually in a great mood at the holiday party – they’re not working, they probably have some time off coming up, and they most likely have a drink in-hand. Make the most of cocktail hour by taking a few laps around the room.

Need a little help with conversation starters? Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Ask about food or drinks: “Have you tried the arancini yet?” or “Do you know what’s in the signature cocktail?”
  • Lead with a compliment: “I love your dress! Where did you get it?” or “Hey, great job on that presentation last week!”
  • Talk about current events: “Did you hear about [insert recent and amusing news story]?” or “Did you catch the [insert your favorite sports team] game last night?”
  • Chat about the party: “What a cool event space! Have you ever been here before?” or “Did you make it to last year’s party? What was the theme?”

Go Beyond Office Chat
Sure, talking about work-related stuff is an easy go-to, but you’re not at the office tonight! The holiday party is a perfect place to get to know your co-workers on a more personal level. This doesn’t have to be super deep (although if it goes there, cool!); you can talk about anything from the Warriors to your manager’s daughter’s soccer tournament. The goal is to learn more about your colleagues’ lives and interests outside of work. You never know what you’ll end up having in common, so ask questions!

And don’t be shy about sharing things about yourself, either. Do you have any exciting trips coming up? Are you learning to golf? Are you completely obsessed with Stranger Things? Now’s the time to open up.

Find the Other Plus Ones
Tagging along as a plus one to a holiday party can be extra awkward – you probably don’t know anyone besides your date. The great news is, a solid half of the room is likely in the same boat. Why not band together? Striking up a conversation with a fellow plus one is as easy as asking if they know anyone else at the party or just plain introducing yourself. They’ll likely be relieved to have another person to talk to!

The best part about hanging with the plus ones? You never know who you’ll meet. You could end up chatting with a recruiter who just so happens to work at your dream company, the very person who could put you in touch with a contact you’ve been trying to reach for ages, or a really cool new friend.

And we wish we didn’t have to say this, but… please don’t drink too much, engage in any office gossip, or bring up topics that may make others uncomfortable. You should absolutely have fun, but remember that these people are your colleagues and you’ll have to face them in the staff meeting on Monday.

End of PSA.

The company holiday party can be a great opportunity for you to strengthen your professional relationships (and create new ones!). It’s not every day that you get the chance to socialize with people from other offices or departments, chat up the CEO, or – most importantly – wear sequins to work without feeling totally overdressed. This really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Happy holiday networking!