Annual Event Teaches Students Etiquette and How to Network Over Dinner
"Recruiters are not taking you out to eat because they think you need to be fed. They want to see how you adjust your behavior because your behavior at the table can reflect your behavior in the workplace."
Barbara Lang, Founder of B. Lang Consulting and former career advisor, taught nearly 200 students how to strike a conversation and properly fold their napkins during the Fleishman Center's Annual Etiquette Dinner on Thursday, February 22.
Lang's message for the night was clear: personal and professional success stems from developing relationships. She emphasized being curious in conversation and making others feel appreciated and engaged, because she defines etiquette as respecting, acknowledging and appreciating other people.
The golden rule in etiquette, she says, isn't to treat others the way you want to be treated, but rather to treat them the way they want to be treated. She encouraged students to take initiative if they see someone uncomfortable and make them feel better.
At this year's Etiquette Dinner, students were able to network with others at their table and enjoyed a three-course meal, followed by an interactive question and answer session.
Regarding silverware, Lang said, start from the outside in: use your furthest fork for the main course and your innermost fork for dessert. Follow your table host's lead and wait until everyone is seated. Remember not to salt your food before you taste it and cut your food in small pieces, especially if out with a recruiter. You should place your knife on top of your plate and your fork on the side of it when you're done using them and never leave your spoon in a bowl after you finish eating from it.
Lang also emphasized the importance of body language. She said that even on a phone interview, standing opposed to sitting will make your voice clearer and you will feel more focused.
She told introverts to "pick it up a little" and extroverts that they "talk too much!" Conversations can start with finding commonalities and then can be followed by asking questions and gaining social cues of how to best connect with those people. Lang suggested that students become aware of their conversations with those around them by thinking less about themselves and more about what they can learn from others. For those who get shy starting a conversation, she urges to go to Wegman's on the weekends and have short conversations with the employees who give out the free samples – who doesn't love free food anyway?
"Keep it personal, keep it specific and keep it genuine," Lang said. "Your eulogy is your reputation, and it starts now."