NETWORKING / NOV. 26, 2014
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Guidelines for Socializing at Work

Many people find themselves interacting with their colleagues, clients or boss on a regular basis. Such interactions can be very effective when it comes to clinching contracts or career advancement. However, it is important to remember that business socializing is very different compared to socializing with family and friends. The following are some tips for socializing in work-related environments:

1. Socializing with your boss

Socializing with your boss offers a great opportunity to know each other better in a relaxed atmosphere. Such interactions could open the doors to added responsibilities or a promotion. However, this should be kept within reasonable limits:

  • Keep it professional – Regardless of the rapport between the two of you, she or he still remains your boss. Therefore, you should always be respectful in your conduct. Remember to keep your dress and conversation appropriate    
  • Have reasonable expectations – When socializing with your boss, avoid bringing up issues about promotion or a pay rise. Having a great relationship with your boss does not necessarily imply that you will automatically get you want.

2. Socializing with clients

In some instances, socializing with a client will involve a meal. This is a great way of building relationships, getting referrals and bagging future contracts. Here are some tips which will enhance your chances of success:

  • Select the location wisely – Choose a location that your client can access easily. It should have ample parking and a serene atmosphere conducive for discussion. In addition, it should be a place which is well known for offering excellent meals and service
  • Put your client at ease – From the onset, you need to ensure that your clients feel comfortable. If you are the one who gave the invitation, you should pay the bill. Be sure to tell them that the bill is taken care of. In addition, share what you intend to order before the waiter returns. Your client might feel unsettled if they order for a more expensive meal than yours.
  • Spend appropriately – The amount you spend on the client should be directly proportional to the benefits expected from building the relationship. Therefore, if a client offers major prospects for future business, lunch at an expensive eatery would make sense. However, when the prospects are less, a moderate meal would be appropriate.

3. Socializing with colleagues

Socializing with your colleagues is less stressful compared to socializing with your boss or clients. However, this needs to be kept within limits to maintain your reputation in the workplace. Here are some tips for socializing with your co-workers:

  • Limit alcohol intake – Though alcohol might be available in plenty, be sure to drink in moderation. If you drink too much, you might lose your senses and act in an inappropriate manner
  • Eat moderately – Avoid the temptation of piling food on your plate when interacting with colleagues. To keep your hunger pangs in check, it would be advisable to eat something before the function. Don’t forget to exercise proper table etiquette during your meal. For instance, you should not talk with food in your mouth
  • Keep your conversation appropriate – If you say something inappropriate to your co-workers, you might hurt their feelings or make them uncomfortable. Therefore, whether at the office or at a party, make sure your conversations are appropriate
  • Discuss non-work topics – Your conversations with colleagues should not just be limited to office matters. Ask them about their families, interests and dreams.

4. Socializing at conferences

Conferences offer a great opportunity to network with others in your industry. How can you socialize effectively at conferences?

  • Listen more than you talk – When you talk too much, people might see you as a self-centered and selfish individual. To build relationships, learn how to listen more than you talk
  • Hold your drink in your left hand – This allows you to shake hands with your right hand when meeting people. In addition, it ensures that your hand is not wet or cold.

Socializing inappropriately in work-related settings could have a detrimental effect on your reputation and career. The tips mentioned above will help you avoid costly mistakes in business socializing.

Image source: Leadership With Sass

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