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Posted June 14, 2016 by

7 ways to make a good impression during business dinners

Attending business dinners and professional networking events often brings on anxiety for many people, particularly college students and recent grads. It should! It’s not something most people do on a regular basis, and it requires a special skill-set. How do you remember which fork is which? Should you place your napkin next to your plate or in your chair when you stand up to shake someone’s hand? And what if you take a bite of something disgusting and need to spit it out—oh geez!?!

The possibilities for embarrassing moments at business dinners are seemingly endless.

If that weren’t enough, you’re most likely attending business dinners for specific purposes. You’re either attending to network with coworkers, supervisors, or potential employers, or you’re attending as part of the interview process. Either way, you’re under pressure to demonstrate your best table manners.

This short video, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, suggests seven quick ways to make a good impression during business dinners.


If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

1.Skip the alcohol.

If offered alcohol, consider passing for multiple reasons. Drinking in the company of coworkers, supervisors, and potential employers can be dangerous. If you’re underage, it’s a clear no-no. If you’re of legal drinking age, it’s still questionable because you may inadvertently consume more alcohol than intended and wind up singing karaoke in the bar next door to the restaurant with your future boss watching. Need I say more?

A good general rule to apply to business dinners is “all things in moderation.” Don’t eat too quickly. Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, but don’t order the cheapest item either. Don’t fill up six plates on the buffet. Don’t hog the conversation; listen as much as you talk.

2. Don’t comment on food.

When possible, stick to pleasant, neutral topics of conversation like family, weather, weekend plans, and hobbies. Avoid commenting on what you’re currently eating; it’s considered rude. You should also avoid discussing religion and politics, but of course, take the lead of your host and/or supervisor to an extent. If your boss engages you in political banter, you might follow her lead, but remember to tread lightly. What you say can and may be used against you at work!

3. Try to avoid being picky or whiny.

Unless you have a legitimate food allergy and receive items which may trigger an allergic reaction, don’t make demands or send your plate back. If you behave in a picky, demanding manner, this behavior says something about you and not about the restaurant or wait staff.

4. Attend career services’ etiquette dinners.

When you have the opportunity as a college student, attend etiquette dinners hosted by career services offices. These events might seem boring while you’re in college, but after you attend your first business dinner, you’ll wish you’d attend them. You’ll learn the ins and outs of formal business dinners. Sure, you can look these tricks of the trade up online and Google infographics on how to set a formal dining table, but there’s no teacher like experience. If in doubt, work your way from the outside in with flatware and take the lead of your fellow diners who seem experienced and comfortable, particularly your supervisors and potential employers. Perhaps the greatest mistake you can make is to appear really flustered and to allow your nerves to keep you from making conversation with those around you.

5. Treat servers well.

Be kind to the restaurant staff. There’s nothing which speaks more loudly than snobbish behavior toward servers and wait staff. Remember, what you say and don’t say—your non-verbal skills—speak loudly to your employers and future employers. Soft skills truly matter, so be kind and courteous to everyone around you.

6. Don’t chew with your mouth open!

This one is common sense. Don’t chew and speak simultaneously. It’s just plain gross.

Whatever you need to say can wait until you’ve swallowed your food—promise.

On that note, the best way to obtain great table manners is to practice them on a daily basis, so consider chewing with your mouth closed every day, even when you’re eating alone. If you don’t, you might find yourself smacking your pizza with your mouth wide open while sitting across from your potential boss. And you know that won’t impress her.

7. Say thank you.

As always, an attitude of gratitude always makes a great impression on others. Say thank you to your hosts, servers, to people who open the door for you, and to others who extend kindness to you during the meal. Again, it reflects well on you and your soft skills when you treat others well.

Need more networking tips to help you obtain a great internship or entry-level job? Keep reading our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Posted August 27, 2010 by

CollegeRecruiter.com Adds Language Filters

It has been an interesting and education process this past month as we continue to make the move from a Web 1.0 platform where virtually all communication was from our staff and our employer clients to the job seekers over to our Web 2.0 platform where far more communication is user generated. We knew going into this, for example, that we’d inevitably have some users who wouldn’t post appropriate content and that some of that content may end up offending other users. When I outlined my vision for what we were and where I wanted to take us, I got a lot of “are you crazy” looks and remarks back from friends, family, employees, contractors, clients, and other stakeholders. One of their biggest concerns was how would we deal with the inevitable person who didn’t just accidentally step over the line but deliberately leaped over the line by posting porn or other such content which would be very offensive and potentially harmful to our business.

Fortunately, we’ve had only one real problem in the month but I’m realistic enough to know that we’ll have more and probably more frequent. We’ve been able to minimize the number of incidents by being proactive and responsive. On the proactive side, only members can post content and all members must verify they’re for real by registering at our site, receiving an email to the email address they provide, clicking on a link within that email, completing their profile, and answering a math question to help verify that they’re actually human rather than a “bot” (computer program). Are those hoops fool proof? Of course not, but neither is the lock on your front door but locking your house makes it far less likely that you’ll be robbed so you lock it even though you know that a very determined burglar will smash down your door, break a window, whatever.

So what do we do to prevent illicit content once the member is registered? We moderate all blog, video, photo, and other such content. Unless you’re one of the administrators, if you post a blog article then that blog article does not go live until we’ve reviewed and approved it. There are a handful of blog contributors who post frequently and their content is always top notch so we don’t even have to read their blogs. We just approve them. But if we don’t know you well, we’re going to read your blog article to make sure that it isn’t objectionable. It may not be beautiful prose, but we’ll approve it if it isn’t terribly objectionable.

Over time, I anticipate that we’ll see more and more blogs, videos, and other such content posted to our site and we’ll welcome that. So the review process will become more and more of a burden. How will we minimize the burden on our staff time while still doing what we can to minimize the illicit content? One way is our new language filter. This administrative feature enables us to filter out offensive or otherwise prohibited words from content on CollegeRecruiter.com which will help us more efficiently moderate the user generated content, as well as increase the value of your site traffic to the rest of our members and clients. The language filter is sort of a 2010 version of George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on the radio” skit where he said aloud seven of the most popular swear words. Maybe it is a reflection on society, but our filter has a lot more than seven words in it. In fact, it has dozens upon dozens.

So what happens if you post a blog article with one of the words in it? Chances are that you’re a “real” person and that you just stepped over the line. Maybe you did so accidentally and maybe you did so deliberately but if your blog article is good other than a four letter word that you included, we’ll want to publish your blog article but not with the swear word. So the language filter automatically edits the swear word so only the first letter of the swear word is shown and the rest are replaced with (*). So if “swear” was a banned word and you entered “swear” in your blog article, the word will will show up in your blog article as “s****” (without the quotes). Words are filtered when the page is being prepared for display to the user.

Neat, huh?