Party with care

Don't let your socialising have an adverse affect on your career

Party with care

ALLIE'S bubbly personality gave her an edge as regional manager of men's sportswear for a prestigious department store chain.

As her departments became top revenue producers for the nation, her paychecks grew- as did her popularity.

Soon, it was longer and longer lunches when she met with the buyers for seasonal purchases. Then after hours, there were plenty of clubs and cool places for young, working professionals to "chill" once they were off work.

With her fun-loving nature, Allie, the enthusiast, as she referred to herself, was always up for anything. But gradually, her "private life" after work was no longer private. She couldn't hide her sluggish lack of energy after a long lunch or late night.

The repercussions of her social life- poor punctuality, bad time management, and dwindling productivity- began to capsize her career.

Her numbers started to dive, and suddenly, associates across the nation saw her very differently. When her stores dropped from the top tier to the bottom in a span of three months and remained there for the next six, Allie was fired.

Socialising with the boss, colleagues, and customers sometimes presents an inconsistency. What someone sees on the job doesn't jive with what happens after work. Consider these tips to make sure a couple of hours on your social calendar at a trade show or holiday party don't ruin a couple of decades of dedicated work:

* Make sure your humour is not hazardous to your health. You're judged not only for the stories you tell but also for those you think funny.

* Drink like your work depended on it- only moderately. Socialising with the boss or co-workers is no time to have one too many. Bury your troubles in the backyard if you must.

* Lead with your ears, not your mouth. Don't become a bore, and don't monopolise the conversation.

* Leave the gall bladder surgery. People want to know you have a life and can discuss topics other than business. But certainly they expect you to select topics appropriate for a business social setting.

* Mind your manners. Don't forget etiquette and don't cross the boundaries into informality. Remember, you will be back on a professional footing when the socialising is done.

In short, your life after hours should not shock those you lead during work. And even if co-workers prefer the party animal as project leader, it may not perpetuate the image you want to leave with your own boss or client. People want to know that your behaviour off the job doesn't negate the values you communicate on it.

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