Company sponsors dinner to teach business etiquette
University students learned how to conduct themselves during intimidating business dinners at last night’s “Dining Etiquette.”
Tina Knight, a career management specialist for Career Services, said the event helped teach students how to use proper etiquette while conducting business meetings in a dining setting.
Proper etiquette is necessary for those who wish to advance themselves in the business world, said Douglass Ricci, a University career management specialist.
“Proper dining and business etiquette is important for potential employers,” Ricci said. “That is because they want to know whether or not they have the proper skills to entertain their customers and clients in social settings.”
Career Services and Altria sponsored the event, which was held at the Rutgers Club on the College Avenue campus, Knight said.
Altria is a firm that owns several tobacco companies, such as Phillip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, said Jennifer Turner, a unit sales manager for Altria. The company also owns Chateau Ste. Michele, a high-end winery.
The presentation included several items such as appropriate attire for formal and casual business occasions, proper topics for conversation, how to do a proper handshake and the ideal table setting.
Knight said handshakes should ideally be palm-to-palm and only involve two to three shakes. She said overly strong and excessively weak handshakes should be avoided.
“The worst kind of a handshake is the sweaty palm shake,” she said. “If your palms are sweaty, wipe off your hands with a tissue ahead of time.”
Knight also said women should give the same style of handshakes as men.
“The dainty style handshakes that some ladies give may impress some people in some situations, but are inappropriate for business settings,” she said
Conversations in business settings should involve safe topics, such as sports and positive current events, Knight said. Potentially offensive topics and jokes should be avoided.
“Politics and religion, unless that’s the common purpose of everyone being there, should be avoided,” Knight said. “Also, no gossip should be discussed at business settings.”
To appear professional to employers, an individual should begin by talking about his or her professional accomplishments, she said.
Ricci said correct attire is key. Ties should not make political or religious statements, and should end in the mid-belt area.
“Ties should not be so long as to appear almost clown-like,” he said.
For women’s attire, Knight said women should minimize make-up and avoid polishing their nails or wear conservative nail polish. In some formal situations, a black dress may be appropriate.
“They should not be the kinds that you would wear to go clubbing,” she said. “But other than that, they are a good investment for many business situations.”
Ricci said discretion is important when excusing oneself from the dining situation, and bread should be broken and eaten rather than bitten into.
“When you must leave the table, you should not make a broad statement, such as needing to go to the bathroom. Instead, you should say ‘excuse me, I need to leave, but I will be right back,’” he said.
Knight also discussed some dining etiquette rules, such as how to sneeze and serve food.
“You should always sneeze into your elbow,” she said. “If a sneeze comes on very suddenly, then you should turn away from the table … When it comes to serving food, always serve to your left, yourself, and then to the right.”
Tim Zhong, a Rutgers Business School senior, said he registered for the dinner after learning about the event from an email sent by the Rutgers Business School listserv.
“I’m hoping to gain knowledge as to how to dine in formal situations, which will be very helpful in our future careers,” he said.
Knight said the event’s components were very interactive.
“People are asking questions, which is a good sign, since that means they are eager to learn the skills they’re being taught,” Knight said.