Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 16, 2018

Students Network at Etiquette Dinner

Allyson Fogerty


Students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered at 5 p.m. in the Hoff Room of the Upper Jo Young Switzer Center for the opening portion of the 2018 Networking and Etiquette Dinner on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018.

Tall, round tables adorned with hanging black tablecloths were dispersed throughout the room and an informational paper on how to make introductions and “work a room” was offered as participants entered. A table to the side of the room was full of delicious-looking hors d’oeuvres: spinach dip with bagel crisps, caprese kabobs and chicken salad on thinly sliced apple rounds.

The room was full of individuals in attire ranging from business casual to business formal. While many students looked confused as to what exactly was supposed to be happening, a steady stream of conversation and meetings began taking place as the clock on the wall ticked its rhythm.

A lone microphone at the front of the room was eventually graced by Manchester University alum, John Minnich, the guest speaker for the evening’s event. He spoke of why networking—the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts—was important, and why to start now.

He encouraged students to “shake it up a bit,” by breaking their comfort zones and meet new people whose connections may help further along their desired profession or schooling.

“It starts with a simple question,” he said encouragingly.

After a 30-minute session of networking, the herd of finely clad individuals were rounded into the adjacent room where they sat at chosen tables embellished with white tablecloths, delicately folded black napkins and a beautiful place setting with a clear glass of iced water. Each table had a “table captain”—an individual who was to answer questions and give insight into the world of networking and etiquette after college life—and half sheets of paper with conversation starters and proper placement of silverware throughout the meal.

As Minnich once again took the podium and spoke about the importance of networking, his professional experiences, and tips for how to network effectively, the starter salads of mixed greens, cranberry raisins, walnuts, bleu cheese and raspberry vinaigrette were served. He reminded the group to start with the outer most utensils to the left and work progressively inward as the meal advanced. With that, the tables conversed with each other over their salads.

As the conversations advanced from simple getting-to-know-yous, to hard-hitting questions about the “real world” after college, the main entrée of a breaded porkchop over steamed vegetables and rice was served, and the room moved on to the next fork.

Before a dessert of either strawberry or caramel drizzled cheesecake, Minnich strode from his table to the front of the room and commenced asking what each table took away from the evening. Answers ranged from “It’s okay not to like what is being served,” to “How to ask to leave early in a polite manner,” to “Things get easier with practice.”

With a final word from Minnich, the room was set free. Some individuals stayed to further the connections they had made that evening, but most left to continue their evenings with this knowledge of business professional etiquette that gets easier with time.

“We are all human, and we all make mistakes,” Minnich said. “Just relax and enjoy yourself.”