Staff socials are always somewhat awkward to start and often end with mildly inappropriate comments or behaviour – however, they are still an integral component in advancing your career.

Whether in the form of a holiday party, team-building event or a birthday celebration, a staff social is used to bring people out of the professional setting so that coworkers can get to know one another. You may see your colleagues every day and share witty jokes while sitting across from them, but you rarely see them outside the office.

Management teams place a large importance on staff socials as they often prove to enhance the teamwork atmosphere and create a positive working environment that employees enjoy coming to day-in and day-out.

Though a staff social promises free food and even a few free drinks, many professionals still dread spending their free time hanging out with their colleagues and their boss (unless it is during regular office hours, which is always a plus for all team members). This is the wrong attitude. As a professional in your field looking to advance your career, you should jump at the chance to attend a staff social. Here’s why.

1) Get your name out there

This is especially important if you have recently joined the company.

Nobody knows you yet, you may still be referred to as “the new guy” or “the new girl”, so you really need to get your name out there. Attending the staff social will allow your colleagues the chance to get to know you. They will not only learn your name, but they will likely find something in common with you.

Whether you are fans of the same sports teams or enjoy the same outdoor activities, finding a personal connection with your colleagues will enhance the relationship you develop with them. They are likely to remember you, remember what you have in common, and continue to develop that relationship after the staff social.

For those of you who have been employed with the same company for years and have never attended a staff social, you are in the same boat as the new hires.

People may know who you are, but they don’t know anything about you. You’ve never developed any type of relationship with your team members, and this will likely hold you back from career advancement.

Your goal is to be viewed as a positive member of the team that is enjoyable to work with. This will show your superior that you will thrive in a higher-level leadership role and places you in line for a promotion – as long as your work ethic matches up to the requirements as well.

2) Get to know other departments

Apart from your teammates, you should get to know employees in other departments within the company.

These inter-departmental relationships will benefit your daily operations within the company, because you will have the ability to contact members of various different departments for favours you may need.

If you are experiencing computer problems and need to get them resolved immediately, having a relationship with someone in the IT Support department will definitely help in getting the problem resolved in a timely manner. This is also true for when you need data or reports from departments such as Sales and Marketing.

Looking to the future, if you are ever at a point when you are considering a career transition, these relationships will once again prove to be very useful.

You may already know professionals in the field you are transitioning to, and can use them as mentors to ensure you are completing the right steps to be successful on your new career path. You may also use these relationships to receive referrals for job opportunities.

Remember to always connect with these colleagues on LinkedIn to maximize your professional networking abilities.

3) Show your commitment and appreciation

An employee who does not make an effort to attend staff socials, whether they are during office hours or not, is an employee who does not consider themselves a member of the “team”.

By avoiding staff socials, you are telling your colleagues and superiors that you are only at work to clock in your eight hours, and that you have no interest in the company or your role outside of that time.

These are not the qualities that employers look for in employees. Employers want to hire (and promote) individuals who view themselves as an integral component in the overall success of the company.

You should view your daily tasks in the big picture and understand that the work you complete now, will benefit the company overall – and your main goal should always be to see the company succeed.

A perfect way to demonstrate that you are this type of employee, is to attend staff socials and discuss the company’s successes and failures with colleagues and superiors. Take this time to show that you have a genuine interest in the company’s success and request feedback on how you can further contribute to that success.

If you are a new hire or have recently received a promotion, this is also a great time to express gratitude for the opportunity you’ve been given, and to show how much you’ve enjoyed your time thus far in your new role.

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