Fall 2010

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Cocktail Impressions

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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.