Rules of etiquette still apply outside office

From anniversary parties to corporate retreats, after-hours work events often are characterized by a more relaxed, yet still professional environment. Though these events are a wonderful way to connect with coworkers and interact with the power players, they can be disastrous without modern manners.

Pay attention to your office culture: At many companies, bosses and employees regularly go out for drinks basis. However, even casual company cultures may be vastly different, and alcohol boundaries vary. Depending on geography, tenure, written and unwritten policy, take time to research, adjust to and learn about what is acceptable, expected and comfortable for you and your colleagues.

Show up: Go to these events. Research shows that by not attending after-work activities with colleagues, employees can be perceived as disconnected or uninterested.

Eat protein before you go: This will lessen the potential effects of alcoholic drinks and help you remain more comfortable and professional.

Bring conversation starters: Yes, you all have one thing in common: work. However, a work-related event is not the time to continue business or discuss office gossip. Keep conversation balanced between professional and personal. Asking questions about sports, movies, books, travel and pets focuses the conversation on others.

Sincerely visit with many colleagues: Work events can be a professionally comfortable venue to get better acquainted. Remember to branch out to meet new people in other divisions. By connecting with multiple colleagues from all areas of your organization, you create possible mentors, references and contacts that can help your career down the line.

Dress sharply and authentically: Men and women alike, take note that a work party is an extension of the professional work day and is still a business setting. Dress sharply in an outfit that helps you feel confident.

Be present, with the phone off: Focus on the people and the event. If you are glued to your phone all night, you will miss out on key face-to-face interactions.

Don’t loosen up too much: Although being comfortable at these events is key, don’t allow yourself to be overly comfortable. Keep in mind that there is a thin line between sharing happy stories about your personal life and divulging inappropriate information.

Don’t do as the boss does: Perhaps your boss really lets loose at events, violating etiquette guidelines. That doesn’t mean you should. You are still climbing the ladder and your view is not the same as the view from the top.

Avoid table dancing: Letting loose to Beyoncé after a stressful week is a sure-fire way to blow off some steam, but it may not be the best way to impress your superiors.

Sharon Schweitzer is an international modern manners and business etiquette expert