A lot of entrepreneurs plan a summer outing for their employees or vendors that can range from a simple barbeque at someone’s home to an off-site adventure. This casual time is meant to strengthen the bonds between colleagues, co-workers, vendors or clients.
Keep in mind, however, that although the atmosphere is casual, the rules of etiquette still apply. This is still a “business event.” You certainly don’t want to do or say anything that could jeopardize your relationships or cost you a valued employee or account.
Here are some simple “dos and don’ts” to remember.
Go and arrive on time.
Enjoy the event as an opportunity to relax and interact with your co-workers, clients or vendors on a casual basis. Even if you can’t stay the entire time, make an effort to attend as it shows you are a supportive team player. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can show up at any time. When you’re on time, you show respect for all those who worked hard to coordinate the event.
Even if you’re accustomed to wearing cut-off shorts and flip flops on weekends, take care to appear polished and professional for a work-related event. You don’t have to dress to the nines, but do look like you’ve put forth some effort in your appearance.
Prepare the family and play along.
If you plan to include your family, take some time to brief your spouse or partner with the names and relationships of those who will be attending. Ensure that everyone in the family understands that their manners count too. If activities or games are offered, join in, but keep your competitive nature in check. Focus on having fun and you will take your work relationships to a whole new level.
Use the event to talk to not only your familiar co-workers, but to others who are in attendance, including invited guests and family members. Make an effort to speak to those you rarely see. Greet your hosts or organizers upon your arrival and thank them for the event as you leave. Take your gratitude a step further by mailing a handwritten thank-you note following the event.
Don't drink or eat too much.
If alcohol is offered, drink responsibly, as with any business event. This will help you avoid making any accidental or inappropriate behavioral gaffes. Be mannerly when serving yourself and eating and don’t overload your plate with food. You can always go back for seconds. Try to eat something before the event so you aren't famished when you arrive and can concentrate on meeting and mingling with others.
Don't get too friendly.
When people are relaxed or drinking, they may feel comfortable enough to share personal opinions or inside information, or to gossip or vent. This information can easily come back to haunt you later. Topics related to money, sex and politics are off limits. Maintain the same professional boundaries you have in the office. Steer clear of off-color jokes and intimate conversations. Don’t tell embarrassing stories about your co-worker to their family members or others in attendance. Instead, focus on the positive and praise their accomplishments.
Don't bring uninvited guests or post inappropriate pictures.
Even though your friend or family member is in town for the weekend, always ask permission before bringing a guest. With everyone having a mobile phone these days, it is easy to snap an embarrassing photo or video of a friend or co-worker’s mishaps to post on your social media accounts. Be respectful and resist the temptation to post distasteful photos.
A summer social event should be an enjoyable experience, and with these simple rules of etiquette, there is no doubt that you will come off as cool, calm and confident.