Fairfield University
| February 2013 | Fairfield University News Channel

Etiquette Dinner Gives Students a Competitive Edge

If you are exactly on time for a meeting, are you late?

Should you try to avoid peas, spaghetti and other unruly foods at a business dinner?

Is any cleavage too much at work?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you should have gone to the Dolan School of Business’s etiquette dinner. 

“Even the best employee can set themselves back in the workplace if they don’t have good social skills,” said Ann Marie Sabath, founder of At Ease Inc., a business protocol training firm, who served as the evening’s host. She put students through the paces of a mock business dinner to help make them “career ready.” And it wasn’t just about salad forks and what not to wear and drink (Hint: skip the stilettos and the Scotch.)

The seminar, complete with crudité, chicken and fruit tarts, armed students with an arsenal of advice on mixing and mingling and tips for navigating the fine art of awkward work interactions.

For the forgetful, there was a boatload of tips.

For instance, what do you say to someone whose name you’ve forgotten? “It’s so good to see you!”

How do you introduce two people whose names you cannot remember? Extend your hand to shake their hands, smile, say enthusiastically your name, and absolutely nothing more.

How about the trifecta of forgetting three peoples’ names? Just say pleasantly, “So nice to see you. Can you please help me with the introductions?”

The array of tips kept coming, leading students to keep as many notes as they would from a classroom lesson.

Should you eat before a business dinner? Definitely.

Stand out by penning a thank you note to an interviewer instead of sending an email.

How do you know how much to order from a menu? Just ask your host/boss what they plan to have.

When it comes to cocktail parties, listen more than you speak.

What should you do with your drink and appetizer plate? Gingerly place them in your left palm and fingers. This leaves your right hand free to shake hands.

Where is a smart place to stand at a networking event? Hang out in front of a window.

“I would have never known that,” said freshman Alexander Jasmin, a finance major. “That advice is really helpful to me and the kind of work I hope to go into.”

Jamie Iverson, a junior majoring in marketing, observed, “I’ve gotten a lot of memorable information here that I didn’t expect from a business dinner.”

Also known as the competitive edge dinner, the event is part of the Dolan School of Business’s "Professional Development Series," providing students with real-world career preparation for internships and jobs. There are programs on résumé-writing, the executive mentor program, and career nights, all offering students an edge entering the labor market.   

To Dr. Donald E. Gibson, dean of the school, such opportunities supplement academic development. “A skill set in manners and diplomacy are key to every business leader's career growth,” he said.

Last modified:  Wed, 27 Feb 2013 11:10:00 EST

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