RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Whether it's a year of big losses or big profits, most companies still manage to hold a holiday party for employees. On Wednesdays, we focus on the workplace. And today Silicon Valley businessman Rich Moran offers some advice on avoiding the pitfalls of the season.

Mr. RICH MORAN (Author, "Nuts, Bolts and Jolts"): At the last really huge company holiday party I attended, a young woman who reported to me jumped up onstage just as the beginning drumbeats to the B-52's song "Love Shack" began filling the hotel ballroom.

(Soundbite of song, "Love Shack")

B-52'S (Rock Band): (Singing) If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says 15 miles to the - love shack.

Mr. MORAN: It was great. There were thousands of people there and the crowd went wild. Now, this is not the big party at some celebrity magazine or hip-hop record label. This was Accenture, the big business consulting firm.

I leaned over to my wife and whispered, oh man, I hope this doesn't go on her performance review, or mine. It turns out that girl could really sing and dance. She was great. Her performance was the highlight of the party. And it did end up on her performance review, but not as a ding. It was the best thing that ever happened to her career.

Now, everyone knew her name and started seeking her out for cool projects. Maybe they thought anyone with that much moxie should be able to sell something.

So you see, holiday parties aren't the career killers they're reputed to be. There can be an upside, however rare. Still, I wouldn't recommend that anyone go to their work party, sing with the band, or get drunk and start playing air guitar on the tables. Holiday parties are still full of pitfalls that can affect your career and probably your reputation.

Not that you shouldn't go. You definitely should go. You'll be missed if you don't go and they do take attendance. Your co-workers want to see who you're dating, who you're married to, and what you think festive holiday attire is.

(Soundbite of party)

Mr. MORAN: So here are some pointers to help you avoid considering resigning after people remind you what you did at the holiday party.

First, it's always best not to get drunk. And since no one ever listens to me on this first key piece of advice, pay special attention to number two.

Number two, stay away from anyone, anyone with a video camera. You may think you're a good singer or dancer, but you might show up on YouTube the next day next to the classic "Seinfeld" episode of Elaine dancing at her company party.

(Soundbite of "Seinfeld")

Ms. JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS (Actress): (As Elaine) All right. Who's dancing?

Mr. MORAN: Number three, if last year's steak and wine has been replaced by goldfish crackers and beer, cut your company some slack. At least they're trying. It may have been a bad year, especially if you're in parts of the mortgage or banking industry.

Those parties are also a good indicator of whether or not it's time to brush up that old resume. Watch for those goldfish crackers.

Lastly, don't forget the basic company holiday party common sense, like don't hit on your boss's wife, don't wear antlers or blinking red noses, and don't drive home drunk.

So go and have fun. Hey, it's time to get to known your co-workers in ways never imagined in cube-land. It's time for your date to see who you've complained about all year. It's time to relax and say I made it here for another year. Congratulations.

MONTAGNE: Rich Moran is a partner at the California venture capital firm Venrock. His latest book is "Nuts, Bolts and Jolts."

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