Each year, Western Washington University holds an “Etiquette Dinner,” a chance for students and professionals alike to brush up on their table manners and social skills.
Students from all different majors joined tables with representatives from Boeing, Clark Nuber, Clearwire, Dynacraft, a PACCAR company, Ernst & Young, Fred Meyer, KeyBank, Larson Gross, Mutual of Omaha, NOAA, Target (Distribution Center), Vitech Business Group, Zones, Enterprise Holdings, and Moss Adams.
Crystal Stanfield, Talent Acquisition Specialist from Enterprise Holdings, was the featured speaker for the event. She spoke about a range of etiquette topics such as how to politely eat a meal while on business, and how to handle awkward moments with your supervisor. The main idea of her presentation was, “Etiquette is about making other people feel comfortable.”
I’m not lying when I say that the first half hour of open networking was terrifying. I may preach that networking is important and that everyone should do it (which everyone should), but that does not take away the scary feeling of “not knowing anyone,” or “looking like a loner” while everyone else chats away in tight clumps.
In regards to connecting with someone who is in one of those circles, Stanfield suggested to stand just outside the circle, make eye contact with the prospect, and wait to be invited into the circle. Once in the group, introduce yourself, say what you gotta say, and then leave. I don’t know if I would ever have the guts to be that daring. It seems that breaking my way into a group would be just as awkward as wandering around one. Regardless, I appreciate that she offered an actual strategy to handle that situation.
Rather than budding my way into a group, I would prefer to stay as open as possible to so that I am approachable to others around me. On more than one occasion, I invited someone who was alone to come talk with me and someone else.
I highly recommend this event to WWU students and professionals from Whatcom county. It was fun, the food was good, and I left with a few new contacts.
P.S. If you are a student attending this event, I recommend you bringing a business card. It is a great way to stand out from the other students, and it facilitates an easier follow up.
Photo credit: Undressed Skeleton