A conference or business event can be exhausting and stressful. You need to spend all day making a good impression and showing yourself to be a knowledgeable, professional and sensible employee. It is no surprise, therefore, that many conferences give attendees a chance to relax and let their hair down afterwards with a party.
This can be anything from an elaborately planned event to a simple trip to a nearby pub. However, no matter how formal or casual it is there are still certain rules you need to abide by. People often forget that a post-conference party is still essentially part of the event, therefore you are still representing your company.
The stereotypical view of afterparties like this is that they don't really count as part of the conference. However, people don't magically stop remembering what goes on after the main event closes. Your actions will still be judged by your peers, even though technically the conference is over and you are no longer at work.
You need to make sure that you are still professional, even at social gatherings. This can easily be done with a bit of willpower, but there are a few things you must bear in mind if you really want to make the most of a post-conference party.
The first is that professional doesn't have to mean boring. You shouldn't end up being so worried about making a fool of yourself that you end up not being any fun. Remember, this is still a good opportunity to network with other professionals. Don't waste it by sitting in the corner and not talking to anyone!
You should be social and talk to as many different groups of people as possible. During the conference, people might judge you on how professional you are, but afterwards you might find that just as many people form opinions on you based on how sociable and friendly you come across as.
You can end up making just as good an impression by being funny, welcoming and accessible at an afterparty as you can during the main conference. However, as with anything, the key is to maintain a good balance.
You certainly don't want to drink too much and do or say something embarrassing and foolish. This could undo all of your hard work during the day, as people remember only how you acted while you were drunk and not how sensible and professional you were during the main conference.
A good idea is to set yourself a limit on the number of drinks you will have. Try not to get sucked into buying rounds, as you can end up getting pressured into keeping up with the fastest drinker in the group.
If you are really worried, or not sure how many drinks is too many for you, then don't drink at all. Alternatively, you could say you're driving back and stick to the legal limit. That way, people are less likely to pressure you into drinking more than you are comfortable with.
If you are sensible, you should be able to ensure your next afterparty is just as successful as the conference that precedes it. You might find that you make even better contacts over a few drinks than you did throughout the day! Just be mindful of the balance between being fun and professional, and you should be successful.