Ever wonder how to balance a plate and glass, exchange business cards and have a meaningful conversation all at the same time? At the 2010 Etiquette Banquet at the Norris University Center in early April, author and professional development expert Jason Seiden (KSM02) offered tips on what to say, where to stand and how to eat when you absolutely need to impress the person you’re with at a cocktail reception.
- Use humor
Try for self-deprecating humor that doesn’t detract from your skills.
- Smile on
Always be positive, and smile until it kills you.
- Ask questions
But don’t ask the expected ones.
- Don't go hungry
Eat before the appetizers so you don’t have to hold a plate, and if you do have to eat, practice holding the plate with your weaker hand so you can shake hands with people if necessary.
- Wet hands?
Put a napkin around the glass to avoid condensation.
- Take a sip
Don’t drink? Grab a glass of club soda or ginger ale. It’s more a prop than a drink.
This year, the format changed from years past: rather than learning about formal dining etiquette and eating a four-course meal, students learned about networking etiquette. Seiden spoke to students about topics such as how to enter and exit a conversation gracefully, then followed up his talk with a question-and-answer session. After the presentation students practiced the tips. The Big Ten Network filmed the event for a piece that will air this fall. Two hundred students attended the annual event, which is sponsored by the Northwestern Alumni Association and Northwestern Class Alliance.