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Mixing Work With Pleasure

(SmartPros) In your professional life, you may encounter situations where social and business obligations overlap. Kristi, a senior accountant at KPMG, recently attended a Sting concert with the members of her team and a few clients. The concert was an enjoyable break for everyone on the team, especially after completing a demanding auditing job.

This is just one occasion when socializing was all in a day's work for Kristi. It could be a sporting event, bowling or dinner with clients who want to say "Thank you." Socializing is also an integral part of some of the recruiting events in which she has participated.

Apart from providing a welcome break from work pressures, socializing is an effective way to bond with co-workers in a setting outside work. Ken, a senior manager at KPMG, often participates in training sessions. He finds that social interactions outside the classroom have benefits in the classroom as well because they allow for greater communication.

During a recent two-week training period, he and the rest of his team went out to dinner twice and spent an afternoon learning rope- and rock-climbing. And the highlight of a business meeting was a group dinner with a Western theme.

Why does Ken think these events are important? Not only do they provide an opportunity to get to know one's co-workers better, but they are often a useful way to meet new people from the firm and outside. Professionally, too, one learns from these interactions, Ken says.

Socializing plays an especially crucial role at higher levels. Spin, a partner at KPMG, finds that meeting clients socially is an important part of his job. It helps build and retain good relationships with clients. Fishing and golfing are just some of the activities he names. This past summer, he was host to some of his clients at the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

When it comes to mixing work with pleasure, observe some important "do's" and "don'ts". For a newcomer to the professional world, an important rule is to follow the lead set by your superiors. For instance, order an expensive dinner only if your superior orders one. What you order should be comparable to or lower than what he or she orders.

Remember to act professionally; the setting may be social, but it is still related to work. Be courteous. Dress appropriately. Talk about issues other than work but steer clear of controversial subjects.

Things to avoid: Do not make inappropriate jokes or order a drink unless it is offered by your boss. If you do drink, don't overdo it. The rule of thumb is to be yourself and let common sense guide you.

2001, Smartpros Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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