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Women's Center luncheon teaches professional etiquette

Three forks, three glasses, two knives, two spoons – that’s enough to leave a young job candidate flustered before the first interview question.

Students learned professional etiquette during “From the Blackboard to the Board Room,” presented by the Women’s Center. Everything from preparing for the occasion (ask if it’s business casual or black tie) to eating a fancy meal (choose outer utensils first) networking know-how in a busy room (ask open-ended questions) was covered in the two-hour session at the Norfolk Student Center.

TCC chef instructor Deanna Freridge discussed dining etiquette, while Peggy Layne, chair of Network for Empowering Women Students (N.E.W.S.), and Terri Thompson, a TCC Board member who is also a member of N.E.W.S, advised on networking techniques.

“Be prepared, be on time; it’s fashionable to be early rather than late,” Freridge said. “And absolutely no cell phones. Make sure your phone is turned off or on silent.”

The four-course meal included soup, salad, a chicken entrée and a brownie/ice cream dessert, each which raised its own set of questions. Freridge also urged students to be polite to wait staff throughout the meal.

“That really can make an impression on prospective employers,” she said.

Layne and Thompson noted how long it takes to make a first impression (15 seconds) and reminded students to listen when making new connections.

“Where a lot of people fail is to listen and listen accurately,” Layne said. “You can get some great material when you actively listen.”

Other tips: Stand by the door to approach people early, and wear your name tag on the right so it’s at eye level while shaking hands.