March 1, 2024

Like most things about the world, students from the ages of 18-24 think they have etiquette all figured out. It isn’t until a student is torn screaming and crying from university life and thrust into the professional world that they realize four years of higher education has not taught them a thing about the finer nuances of sophisticated adult interactions

Take for example the hand shake: something that all students have down pat, right? Of course, a good hand shake is marked by a firm, strong grip and deliberate, lingering eye contact. Everyone knows that.

That’s all fine and dandy, but there are those who get so caught up in squeezing adequately  and maintaining eye contact that they  leave potential new employers scared, confused, and with a loss of sensation in their fingers. A hand shake should never prompt the other party to ask themselves what they possibly could have done to deserve such torment. This is something universally known but not necessarily universally practiced.

Shortly before classes let out for Christmas break, parents of Wittenberg seniors received a letter from Wittenberg Career Services urging them to register their child for the Networking Learning Event taking place at the end of February. The moderately large group of student attendees was an indication that many parents found the pitch to be persuasive enough to drop the $5 cover to register their child.

The event featured speaker Terri Thompson, an etiquette consultant and founder of Etiquette in Action, and took place at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27 and ran for about an hour and a half. Those in attendance found answers to timeless inquiries like “What is the best way to enter into a conversation?” or “How do I eat a hot wing without turning myself into a messy, sauce-crusted slob?”

To summarize, when attempting to impress a would-be employer or business connection at networking event, it is important to always remember that while food and booze are likely to be present, they should never be the chief concern. Have an idea of who you want to meet and force yourself upon them, making sure to leave your contact information. Also important is the follow-up after an introduction, which Thompson suggests is best done in the form of a handwritten note delivered the following day. It is also worth noting that a name tag should always be worn on the right side of the chest, never the left.

Wittenberg alumni attended to serve as mock employers and business associates in order allow registered students to practice their fledgling networking skills and to let themselves be subjected to repeated knuckle-squashing handshakes as the seniors refined their squeeze exuberance.

As if the promise of adept social prowess wasn’t enticing enough, the event was also catered, allowing guests to munch on an array of hors d’oeuvres as the information was delivered. Over the course of the evening, students engaged alumni in professional banter and balanced plates and beverages as they shook hands.

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