Proper etiquette is essential for making a favorable impression at both lunch/dinner interviews as well as in social business situations. Although common sense is often your best guide, the following suggestions will help you stand out as a polished professional.

Reception/Social Hour

Reception or social hours are typically for the purpose of networking for jobs and entertaining clients. Follow the lead of the majority of individuals in the room and the following basic tips:

  • Keep at least one hand free. If you are standing, have only a drink or food in one hand, never both.  Hold a drink in your left hand so that you have a dry hand to offer a firm, not crushing, hand shake.
  • You can eat and drink while sitting, but it is always better to stand and greet.
  • Make good eye contact.  Don’t forget to introduce yourself to the host/hostess and don’t interrupt conversations.
  • Avoid approaching two people engaged in deep conversation.  Wait until there is a break so you can introduce yourself.  Look for visual cues to join the conversation.
  • Make eye contact.  Ask people questions about themselves and the work they do.
  • Always offer your contact information and know when it is time to go.  Move on to the next group or individual, follow up with promising contacts, and assess how you can improve your performance.

Dining Etiquette

ARRIVAL/SITTING DOWN

  • Arrive on time and call ahead if you know you will be late.
  • Do not place any bags, purses, sunglasses, cell phones, or briefcases on the table.
  • Have proper posture and keep elbows off the table.
  • Wait 15 minutes before calling to check on the arrival status of your dinner partners.

TABLE SETTING

  • When presented with a variety of eating utensils, remember the guideline to “start at the outside and work your way in”.  For example, if you have two forks, begin with the fork on the outside.
  • Do not talk with your utensils and never hold a utensil in a fist.
  • Set the utensils on your plate, not the table, when you are not using them.