Know your event etiquette. It’s the time of year when everybody’s calendars are full of social and work events. You may be fielding invites to weddings, graduations, and parties, as well as managing networking events set up by your summer job or internship.
While all of these events may be exciting, they can also be a source of stress. Should you go or not? What should you wear? How should you behave?
Lattice Climbers always supports behaving professionally in any social setting that extends beyond intimate friend groups. It’s OK to let loose sometimes, but not when your boss, colleagues, or potential networking connections are watching.
RSVP Right Away
Event etiquette begins the moment you receive the invite. When you receive an invitation, do your best to RSVP within 24 hours so that the event planner knows how many people to expect. When deciding whether or not to go, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you want to go?
- How full is your calendar already?
- Will you have the energy to be present at the event?
- Will the event be fun?
- If you skip the event, will your absence be noted?
- Will the event support your career development?
- Does your job “require” you to attend? This is not a hard requirement, but an expectation that you will go – for example, an employee-wide summer picnic or holiday party.
Once you have RSVP’d, only cancel due to illness or other legitimate reason. Canceling because you got a “better” or “cooler” invite is rude, and in the time of social media, you will likely be found out. Put the event in your calendar immediately so it doesn’t get lost.
Review the Invite
Review the invitation carefully so that you understand what attire is required. For details on specific types of attire, check out Emily Post’s handy dandy guide. When in doubt, call the event organizer to ask for clarification or ask a colleague or friend what they are wearing to the event.
If food is being served at the event and you have dietary restrictions, notify the event host when you RSVP. The invitation should make it clear whether or not you are permitted to bring a significant other or guest. Do not assume you can bring someone with you and think carefully about who you choose to bring. Their behavior will reflect on you.
Mind Your Manners
When the day of the event comes, be sure to arrive within the first 15 minutes and stay at least until the event program, if any, is complete. Be professional throughout the event. Have a positive and friendly attitude and keep your phone put away and on silent. This shows respect for your hosts and will enable you to be present at the event.
Mind your manners at the event. It can be tempting to overindulge in food and drink, especially if there is an open bar or buffet. Don’t pile your plate high with food. Be careful when it comes to consuming alcohol. Being drunk is the easiest way to embarrass yourself at an event. It’s easy to choose not to drink, or just get one drink and take small sips throughout the evening. If you feel social pressure to drink, just order seltzer water with a squeeze of lime from the bar. Bartenders know this is a tool people use to fit in while avoiding alcohol and will happily do this for you.
Be respectful in your conversations with others. Use proper titles like Dr. or Judge when meeting new people, unless you’re invited to use first names. Keep the subject matter appropriate (no gossip, no profanity, no dirty jokes). Remember that conversation is like a tennis match, hit the ball back and forth – don’t do all the talking and don’t interrupt.
Your body language will also impact how you are perceived. Stand or sit up straight and maintain eye contact. Crossing your arms can make you seem standoffish.
Thank the host prior to leaving the event if possible. Event etiquette does not end when the party is over. If it is a work event, send a follow-up thank you note or email.
The Quick Guide
- RSVP within 24 hours and don’t cancel if it’s not an emergency
- Dress appropriately
- Mind your manners with food and drink
- Be respectful in conversation
- Thank the host prior to leaving and potentially after the event