Thanksgiving is over. What’s next for many salespeople? Holiday parties. You have a sales opportunity whether you attend your company’s party or another hosted holiday event. Think of the event as another sales call and this time, you are the product. Whether you realize it or not, you had better pay attention to what happens at your holiday party.
Watch what you drink.
Parties are serious business. You’ve got to behave yourself. If you think you can’t hold your liquor, be sure to have a drink in your hand that’s non alcoholic. I think it’s a much better plan to not drink alcohol at the party even if you can hold your liquor. Why? You may have some savvy management and they make the rounds at the holiday party. Do you think you would create a better impression mildly buzzed or completely sober? If you think the former, I would suggest you in particular need to be drinking bottled water with a wedge of lime.
What can be a challenge is that some people will judge you if you do drink. Even if alcohol is served, these people might be judging you because you drink. It’s not always clear who these people are. You would be hurting your career advancement opportunities if these people are in management. No, it’s not fair, but this judging occurs and you should be aware of it.
Watch how you eat.
Drinking is only part of your concern. Watch what you eat and how you do it as well. Manners are important especially at company events. Let’s say you are being considered for a promotion to management. Do you think that management would promote someone with terrible table manners? Here are examples of people who missed promotional opportunities because of their lack of etiquette.
One employee opened the pepper shaker to pour half the shaker on his food. While his taste buds enjoyed the peppery flavor, what he did was weird and strange. That’s hardly management material. Another employee loaded a plate up like he hadn’t eaten in years. He was never considered for a promotion. Another picked the cashews out of a bowl of nuts with his hands, instead of using the serving spoon, and left the peanuts for everyone else. Yuck! And picking out nuts is not considered good manners.
Coach your spouse or plus one.
Your sales numbers may be great. That might not be enough for your next promotion. There are many managers who hire and consider the spouse when they make hiring decisions. A spouse or guest can improve your reputation or ruin it. Here’s one example.
A senior manager met the fiancée of a top salesman. Unfortunately for the sales star, his fiancée had too much to drink. When she met the senior manager, who was a bit portly, she said, “Great to meet you chubs!” Her fiancé nearly choked on his drink. The senior manager was gracious and with a pained smile ignored her comment. The salesman never got another promotion.
Your spouse can be an asset. Be sure to give a brief summary of the hierarchy of people you work with. Even an org chart can be helpful before the party to someone who is meeting the people you work with for the first time. Yes, you should coach your spouse or guest to be polite to everyone. It’s also especially important for them to be aware of who the senior leaders are and to know a little bit about the work you do. It’s an asset for you when your spouse or guest sounds intelligent and interested when talking with people at the holiday party.
Careers are made or destroyed at company parties. You may be thinking you’re going to a holiday party. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s anything other than work.