End-of-year company and holiday parties should be cause for celebration. Keep it real by thinking about how you can you boost your brand while you have fun. Know there will be lots of opportunities to imbibe. Just be sure to do a little audience analysis before you put on the party hat and loosen your inhibitions.
Before we can talk about getting any drink on, let’s start with what you’re going to wear. Ask yourself what you’ve seen your bosses wear in previous years. If you are the boss, what kind of tone do you want to set for your team? Holiday parties are when we can see some personality, so I suggest bringing color into the mix. A signature piece is also a nice element to play up. If you rock unique socks in general, try a holiday-themed pair for the party. Are you a salesperson or in the accounting division? Let your role at the office guide your style. Or perhaps going against type might bring out your personality and be a conversation starter when you’re meeting and greeting.
This could be the year you focus on style and make a splash at a client party or your company’s own. For hidden gems for men, I turned to Mpls.StPaul Magazine “Todd About Town” columnist and FOX 9’s Man About Town, Todd Walker. He always has opinions when it comes to where to shop. His top pick for men is MartinPatrick3 in the North Loop, followed by Black Blue in St. Paul. Todd and I both suggest Hammer Made at the Galleria for great shirts, slacks and custom suits for men.
For women, I suggest Arafina in the Galleria for high-end, creative options. Focus on well-tailored items. Also consider mixing great reasonably priced pants from prAna or Gap with a tailored, higher-end jacket from Nordstrom or Fashionology at 50th and France. Or try a brightly colored Target blouse paired with vintage cashmere. This is where your personality and stylish spirit can take you to the most authentic place. Mixing like this is also not a pain in the pocketbook.
“Love fashion, like fashion or hate fashion, we all wear clothes. Judgments are made every day based on our choices,” aptly says Tim Creagan, senior stylist with Minneapolis-based Style-Architects. Your image is part of your personal brand. There’s no better time to bring that home by winding down the year looking fabulous at seasonal gatherings. Creagan advises you take a look at your body type and work with what looks best on you. “If you are not comfortable showing your legs in a dress or skirt, don’t.” But do be intentional instead of sloppy. Creagan suggests “mixing accessories that tell a story about your personal style and places you have traveled.” This works for women or men.
Now that you’re looking good, how do you come across sounding like a winner? Stay authentic but have intention with each encounter. Have you waited all year to meet the COO of a new client of your firm? Make sure you find that person at this season’s party and get some face time. If you want to affirm a member of your team or a business associate who has sent prospects your way, make a toast in honor of that person.
Relax, but stay in the game
Yes, parties are for celebrating, but they are not times to totally cut loose. Do take note of the stature of those in front of you. Are they a client, a colleague, a supervisor? Stay true to yourself with your conversation but be aware of where you might have an opportunity to make a mark with your brand as you execute your career goals for the year ahead.
One of the best things you can do is to enter the door at holiday parties with gratitude and a smile. They both wear well and will do wonders for your brand.
Roshini Rajkumar is a communication coach, host of News & Views on WCCO Radio, and author of Communicate That! For additional communication tips, visit CommunicateThatBook.com.