Hamline News

Serving up Etiquette in Three Courses

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To kick off networking and interviewing season, Hamline University's Student Alumni Board, Alumni Relations Office, and Career Development Center hosted its annual three-course etiquette dinner for Hamline students in March 2016. 

The event is designed to give college students a competitive edge during business networking and social dining engagements. Students learn etiquette skills during a real-world networking opportunity.  

"This was our tenth annual etiquette dinner,”  Alumni Relations Director Molly Glewwe said. "Our partnership with the Career Development Center allows us to combine learning about etiquette and networking with a chance to practice those skills and get advice from alumni."

Event speaker, Minnesota Protocol School etiquette expert Teri Gustafson, emphasized that networking makes a difference in the hiring process.

“We have such a small amount of time and space in which to make an impression, and everything really does matter,” Gustafson said.“If you can’t get people to appreciate your personal skill, then it doesn’t really matter what’s on your resume.”

The etiquette training started before the event with an online RSVP. At the dinner, students learned everything from the impact their first impression makes to how to rest their silverware and napkins properly. During the rousing question and answer session following Gustafson's speech, the room was filled with laughter as students listened to Gustafson’s answers that focused on planning ahead to avoid certain situations, and addressed generational challenges. 

“Honestly, if you are going to an event and you have a strapless dress on, where do you think you are going to put your name tag? So think ahead about some of those things,” Gustafson said.  

Because you cannot anticipate every situation, students wanted advice from Gustafson for handling unpredictable situations, such as how to check your phone in an emergency.

“It’s such a different generation that has to do that,” said Gustafson. “Let me just say that you will often be with someone my age, so it’s really smart for you to consider what that might look like to somebody who isn’t as dependent on phones as your age group.”

During the dessert reception, students gained real-world networking experience by practicing mingling in a “work a room” activity. Gustafson told everyone to try and meet five people, enter two conversation circles, introduce two people to each other, and secure a coffee date after the event. Gustafson advised students to start setting their mingling goals before events so they could measure their success afterward. Hamline student, Madeline Lind considered going to the etiquette dinner, but was nervous about going by herself. 

“I was going to go to the dinner, but I didn’t RSVP. I also didn’t want to go by myself because I’m not confident around people I don’t know,” Lind said.

Glewwe said that many students, like Lind, are nervous during networking events, but practicing can help students build confidence.

"We definitely know many students are nervous to attend an event like this, and that's okay," Glewwe said. "We hope this is a great opportunity to work out those nerves in a welcoming environment with alumni who are prepared to help coach students.”