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LIV President's Blog 2012

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Networking during the festive season

Networking during the festive season

As 2015 draws to a close, and with the festive season well underway, most of you will attend at least one work related Christmas or end of year function over the next few weeks. Such events are a well earned chance to relax with colleagues, many of whom will be more senior than you, and reflect on the past 12 months before you head off for the Christmas break.

You’ve no doubt heard the horror stories of lawyers at all levels finding themselves with an unwanted reputation post-event for not being able to handle their alcohol, or generally making a fool of themselves. As any employment lawyer knows, the fallout from inappropriate behavior at Christmas parties is often a fertile source of work heading into the New Year. As such, you might ask how you can best protect yourself and even enhance your reputation at these events.  

As a starting point, I suggest reading these previous Young Lawyers blogs:    

Then, and really in support of you making a good impression during the events as opposed to simply surviving them, follow these five key tips:

Know when to arrive and with whom  

Team up with a colleague or two at your level and arrive in a group. These events are often a little awkward initially and arriving in a group will make things easier before the party warms up. Being overly late shows a lack of respect so be reasonably punctual. That said, if arriving by yourself, avoid arriving too early.    

Know your crowd and socialise

Although most Christmas work parties are mandatory, there are always some people who can’t attend. Find out who will and won’t be attending and prepare a mental list of who you’ll be wanting to speak with. Yes, you’ll be comfortable chatting to lawyers at your level but you’ll do better by venturing out and speaking to the more senior lawyers. A good place to start is with some of the more senior colleagues who you have already worked with.

Maintain control and always keep it respectable

With alcohol invariably flowing, don’t forget that it is still a work event, and while the aim is to have fun and socialise with your colleagues, always keep it respectable. Make sure you eat when consuming alcohol and drink plenty of water. You’ll obviously attend the event dressed well, so ensure you keep that look intact throughout the event. Also keep an eye on any colleagues you think might be heading for trouble – they’ll thank you afterwards.   

Be aware of your body language, actively listen and speak with conviction

Irrespective of who it is that you’re speaking with, maintain good eye contact, smile and actively listen to what they’ve got to say. When it is your turn to speak, be clear and concise and try to add value to the conversation. Often people exaggerate when they feel under pressure and that might be the case when speaking to more senior colleagues. Be aware of this and take your time responding. Particularly if you’re a first year lawyer, think about some positive things to say in case a partner or senior lawyer or HR person asks how your year has been – good examples might include any particular major cases or projects you’ve worked on and what you’ve learned.

Leave on a high

Just as a good comedian always finishes with the audience wanting more, ensure you’re not in the last few remaining when everybody else is long gone (unless you’ve been asked to help clean up). Christmas parties usually reach their peak about two-thirds of the way in and you’re better to leave soon after that or when you sense most people are starting to leave. When you do leave, say goodbye to your close colleagues and anyone you report to, and try to thank those responsible for organising the event.      

So to wrap up, use your work Christmas party as an opportunity to build stronger bonds among your colleagues. Be responsible and help out anyone you think might be heading for trouble. Engage with your colleagues when speaking with them and be confident in your contribution to the firm if anyone asks. And don’t forget to read the two blogs I’ve included as links.
And finally, have a great time! 

Thomas Hobbs is a former lawyer and is now a consultant with Burgess Paluch Legal Recruitment. He will be co-chairing the Young Lawyers Professional Development Committee in 2016.  

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