It’s beginning to look a lot like…holiday party season

Texas is home to some fabulous holiday parties. Here are a few tips and pointers before attending your next holiday party:

  • Stay classy, my friend – Stay consistent with the recommended attire, but don’t be afraid to dress it up a little. It’s better to overdress than underdress. This is another opportunity to make a good impression and show sound judgment.
  • Smooth operator – Prior to the event, refresh yourself on co-workers’ significant others’ and children’s names. You may not have seen many of these people since summer clerk events, and it will make conversations much less awkward if you remember their names. Plus, it’s an easy conversation starter for people to talk about who they love. Don’t forget to choose your date wisely; they are a reflection of you.
  • Can you hear me now?Put your phone away. Be present and engaging.
  • You’re killing me, Smalls – Catch up on the news, what is trending, sports highlights, and the weather before the event so you are in the loop for small talk.
  • Lay off me, I’m starving – Eat light before you arrive so you don’t find yourself monopolizing the hors d’oeuvres as the evening goes on. It’s difficult, and not altogether pleasant, to socialize with someone whose hands and mouth are full. If in doubt, watch yourself eating in the mirror while trying to carry on a conversation and consider if this is really your best look. Also, hold your drink in your left hand so your right hand is free to greet people without being dripping wet and ice cold.
  • Say My Name – Wear a name tag if they’re provided. Name tags are worn correctly on the right side so the person shaking hands or greeting has easy eye contact with both the person and the name tag as a way to help remember the name or to see where he/she is from.
  • Mix it up – Step outside your comfort zone and mingle with people beyond your lunch buddies. Ditch any stage 5 clingers by excusing yourself to the restroom, to say hello to someone else, or to refill your beverage. Also, circulate around the venue. Don’t be the associate manning the shrimp cocktail table or the resident wallflower stationed in the corner all night. Mix up the conversation topics as well; ask about travel plans for the holidays rather than the predictable “how is work?” and “are you busy?”

 

 

  • You are a networking queen/king
    • Practice your 15 second elevator pitch, and remember, it is likely going to be crowded and loud at the party.
    • Before the event, practice your handshake on your significant other. Nobody likes a bone crusher or a dead fish handshake.
    • Pack several business cards (NEW and FRESH, not old crumpled ones) and keep them in an easily accessible place; not buried in a black hole wallet or purse. Networking is a 24/7 task for lawyers, whether you’re looking for clients, referrals, or a better job.
    • If you are unsure whether you’ve met someone before, simply say “nice to see you” instead of mistakenly saying “nice to meet you.”
    • After the party, follow up with new connections on LinkedIn or by email and always include the name of the event where you met. If possible, even include something specific from the encounter – it might jog a foggy memory, or lend some welcome reassurance that you truly were listening.
  • Be a stellar wingman/wingwoman – Help others out with names and introductions and welcome people into your circle (particularly those rolling solo).
  • Don’t be that guy/girl
    • Don’t talk about money, salary, or bonuses.
    • If the holiday party is not your firm’s holiday party (e.g., it’s a bar association, another firm, etc.), do NOT talk about any particular clients or cases that are active or still open. No good can come of it.
    • Do not trash talk ANY colleagues or other lawyers at other firms. You never know who is listening. And you never know who is friends with whom, even when you think you know. You don’t.
  • Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen – Don’t forget to thank the hosts and event organizers. They likely spent a significant amount of time putting the event together and may be helpful resources for further introductions (and maybe even a forgotten name).
  • Know your limits – If you’re drinking alcoholic beverages, take it easy, and alternate with H2O or soda water with a lime. If in any doubt, take a cab or arrange for a designated driver; don’t be the associate that runs over Santa. And don’t let your friends drink and drive either. Be smart. Be safe.

Happy holidays and be safe!

Brittany Ringel

Brittany is legal counsel for Siemens Energy, Inc. She attended UCLA and played volleyball and basketball for the Bruins. After five years in Los Angeles, she made the smooth transition to Waco for law school at Baylor. After her first year of law school, she participated in a study abroad program in Greece, Italy, and London. Today she enjoys raising the roof....of her house and all things real estate and Houzz.com related. Her Jack Russell Terrier, Milo, has a pronounced underbite and too much energy. Brittany is serving as the Houston Young Lawyers Association President this year and getting married in Colorado in July.

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