Getting some out-of-office bonding with coworkers can be valuable and fun—or perilous. To navigate an after-work social life with co-workers, keep the following tips in mind:
Watch your intake.
The #1 pitfall of going out for drinks with colleagues? Knocking back a few too many. Nobody wants to be the topic of embarrassing stories the next day at work—those stories spread fast. Photos can be even more damaging. Keep your composure by limiting how much alcohol you’re consuming on a night out. You’re there to connect with colleagues and build a positive reputation, not to belt out Karaoke with your Department Head’s tie wrapped around your forehead.
Don’t always say yes… or no.
Say yes to every post-work plan, and before you know it you’re getting a little too chummy with the work clique. On the other hand, saying no all the time can come across as a rejection—like you’re aren’t interested enough in your co-workers to spend extra time with them. Maintain a friendly balance. Better still, propose and organize a plan for the group yourself. It’ll show your enthusiasm for hanging out—and might get you off the hook for the standing “Tuesday Trivia Night.”
If the “higher ups” will be there, go.
Good rule of thumb: If your boss or other senior players will be there, make the time to be there too. It’s a great way to connect outside the office and develop those relationships. They’re carving out the time for team-bonding… make sure you do the same.
Don’t succumb to office gossip.
If the conversation turns ugly about a coworker, change the subject. No good comes from sharing unpleasant gossip or badmouthing someone. Speak positively about everyone you work with and they’ll be more likely to do the same when you’re not there.
Who you know can be more important than what you know.
Get to know your peers and colleagues. Learn about their interests, hobbies and aspirations. Building these relationships make your workday more enjoyable, and you’ll create a powerful network of contacts to reach out to during your career. Your next or best job will come because you knew the right person at the right place at the right time.
Learn more about your company.
Sharing time with colleagues after work gives you a chance to learn about what other departments do and get a better understanding of your company structure—which may come in handy as you plan your next move.
At the end of the day, happy hour is about having fun. Find ways to relax and enjoy while remaining professional…and don’t do anything you don’t want people talking about in the break room the next day.
Andra Newman is a co-founder of QuadJobs. She previously headed recruitment for J.Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch and ran her own search firm, Winokur Newman.