‘How to Work the Room’ 2.0: The Holiday Party


VC Rich Moran of Venrock will soon be contributing a regular column to Found|READ. Rich is a Silicon Valley veteran, a former Accenture consultant, and the author of five books, including Nuts, Bolts and Jolts: Fundamental Business and Life Lessons You Must Know. Pick it up.

Rich’s first post, which we’re cribbing from his blog and which was broadcast on NPR today, highlights the costs and benefits of the annual holiday party — an event, which, let’s be honest, many managers dread if only for the potential pitfalls of mixing libations with labor.

Rich opens with the story of girl whose unscripted lip sync to the B52’s song “Love Shack” promoted her out of “anonymous analyst status.” (We assume this was at Accenture.) “Now everyone knew her name and she was sought for projects.”

So Rich writes, “Holiday Parties are not always the career killers they are reputed to be.” But leaders, and especially company founders, need to handle the Holiday fete with care. So Rich offers some tips.This is your ‘How to Work the Room’ primer, version 2.0!

  • If you are the boss, give your toast and speech of thanks early. Before the audience or you have had too much to drink.
  • Stay away from any one with a video camera. You may think you are a good dancer but you might show up on YouTube next to the classic of Elaine from Seinfeld dancing at that party.
  • For that same YouTube reason, don’t wear any fancy clothes that can fall off and reveal something that might show up on an ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend web site.
  • Never sit with the company lawyers. They are never any fun at these events since they are focused on the liabilities of everything that is happening around them.
  • If the company is coming to the end of a really bad year, cut the management some slack for goldfish and beer instead of steak and wine. At least they are trying.
  • Do not sneak out into the hall to check your blackberry or PDA. Leave all blackberries and any thing that seems like work at home.
  • Remember that there will be no secrets. Anything that happens at the holiday party, does not stay at the holiday party. Whether it involves sex, drugs, facebook pages, rock and roll, annual reviews, wearing lampshades or obese dates; it will be on the web and message boards and other places on Monday.
  • Lastly, have fun. It is a time to get to know your co-workers in ways never imagined in cube land.

You can read more from Rich on his blog, Moran at Work.