business etiquette and networking guide

Networking over a Meal

  • For the table setting, “BMW” is a helpful acronym for bread, meal, water, from left to right.

    • Your bread plate will be on your left.

    • Your glass will be on your right.

  • When it comes to silverware, work from the outside in.

  • Using a fish knife:

    • A fish knife has a sharp point and a wide, flat spatula blade.

    • The point is used to make the initial cut into the fish.  

    • The flat part of the blade is used to lift the meat off the bones. Then, transfer the meat to your fork, before eating it.

  • Pace yourself with your dining companions.

  • Once you are done eating, place your fork and spoon facing diagonally on your plate.

  • After the meal is over, fold and place your napkin on the left side of your plate.

Starting a Conversation

  • Stand when being introduced.

  • Arrive early to mingle as people arrive.

  • Prepare some questions to ask the firm representative before-hand, such as:

    • How would you describe the culture at X firm?

    • How does X firm responding to the challenge of [current event relating to their field of work]?

  • If you are speaking to a firm representative, remember to note down their name so that you can either follow-up with them or mention them by name in a future application.

  • If you’re feeling nervous, it can be helpful to introduce yourself to people who are alone, before working up to introducing yourself to a group.

  • Alternatively, if you smile and make eye contact, someone will likely open up the group circle so you can join them.

  • When eating or drinking at a networking event, leave your right hand free for hand-shakes.

  • Take small bites so that you can continue to hold the conversation.

After the Networking Event

  • Excusing yourself

    • “It was very nice to meet you. Thank you for sharing your insights on X.”

    • Ask for a business card.

  • Following up

    • Within two days

    • Be brief, on topic, specific

    • Things to mention:

      • When and where you met them

      • A brief line on who you are

      • A thank you for a specific piece of advice or insight they gave

      • Ask any further questions you have.

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