Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Act like a professional.

Tonight I presented an etiquette workshop to a group of our business students. The focus was on how to behave in a reception environment. I covered things like responding to invitations, introductions, conversation, body language, how to stand, eat, drink and talk and how to make your exit.

My colleague who sponsored the event and asked me to present asked how I became interested in the topic. I think it was a combination of things. I think my parents, although not formal, taught me well. I've also been very lucky to be involved in the National FFA Organization and Farm Bureau. Both organizations hosted numerous personal and professional development workshops that included etiquette in which I got to participate.

Knowing how to eat at a sit down dinner is important, but I believe knowing how to network in a reception environment is even more important. Here are a few things I shared:

1. Etiquette is about making people feel comfortable around you. It's about minimizing the distracting things we all do. It's about making a good first impression.

2. Always wear your name tag on your right side.

3. Eat and hold your drink with your left hand. No one wants to shake a clammy, crumby hand.

4. Be strategic about who you talk to and what you talk about. Introduce yourself to people you wouldn't have access to otherwise. Build your network!

Social capital is one of the key concepts from my class this semester. It is the knowledge, resources, and opportunities we gain from our formal and informal networks of family, friends and fools. Not all of the knowledge we learn is helpful. Not all of our networks are positive. Not everyone has the social capital it takes to be successful in our highly competitive world. It felt good to share some of mine.

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