By Stuart R. Levine

Published In, Forbes

Holiday parties can be fun, but they can also be damaging to your career. Make sure to follow these six steps at your office party to outshine your co-workers and not fall flat!

1. Network

This may surprise some of you, but your holiday party isn’t simply a time to let loose with your work pals. Your office holiday party is a great opportunity for you to meet people and build relationships with co-workers outside your core team. Instead of hanging out in the corner with your usual work friends, use this holiday party as a chance to advance your career and meet new people. Step up your networking game and before the party, and take a moment to prepare and think about who you would like to connect to with. Trying to get a project off the ground with a new department? Go find the team at the party, introduce yourself and get some face time!

2. Stick to PC topics of Conversation

Everything you say at your office party can and will be held against you. Even though your party may be held outside your office building or after traditional work hours this does not mean you will not be held accountable for your actions. Remember that there are no casual conversations. There will be consequences, positive or negative based on those interactions. This is a not a time to tell stories about your old glory days in college, take a stance on a controversial political topic or hit on a co-worker who you had a secret crush on.

3. Don’t Get Drunk

While the holiday season is always a reason to celebrate remember to keep it in check at your office holiday party. It is never a good idea to get drunk at a work event. Even though the event may seem like a party environment and even if you can tell your boss is tipsy do not go there! You do not want to say or do something you regret and end up the talk of the office water cooler the next morning.

4. Don’t Show Up Angry

If you are unhappy with your bonus this year or are having a tiff with your co-worker do not take the office party as an opportunity to resolve these issues. All office issues should be resolved at the office in a private setting. You do not want to air your dirty laundry or cause a scene at the party. These actions will only hurt you in the end. Put your anger aside for the night and deal with it in a calm appropriate setting at another time.

5. Be Situationally Aware

Your CEO will most likely be at your corporate office party. You may be very excited to see him/her in a party setting and may want to introduce yourself. However, think about the setting and digest who he/she is taking to before you approach. He/She may be in an important conversation and it may hurt you to interrupt. If you find an appropriate time to say hello – keep it quick. He/She will need to speak to as many people as possible and you do not want him/her to remember you as a nuisance who monopolized their time.

6. Look Good and Appropriate

Make sure that your clothes don’t attract too much attention. The goal is to impress people on your professional strengths – not to distract. People judge you based upon your personal presentation which not only includes your conversation but your presence.

Have fun and enjoy… But not too much!