Getting an opportunity for an evening of business etiquette training from Kathleen Harshberger ‘80 is like being invited for a private piano lesson by Beethoven.
Learning to navigate the numerous forks, spoons and knives spread on the table also brought West to the dinner. “I don’t know anything about this,” she said, pointing to the placement of the silverware on the table. “You really don’t learn this growing up unless you’re from a really fancy household,” she said with a laugh.
Throughout the evening, Harshberger, a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington, served her business etiquette knowledge with charm and wit and quickly reminded the students and table hosts, “Remember everybody, the professional meal is not about the eating, it’s about the meeting.”
During the four-course meal, Harshberger addressed numerous business etiquette topics, such as posture, how to hold a fork and knife during the dinner and when to use which piece of silverware. Harshberger eased tensions of left-handed eaters when she instructed that it’s ok to reverse the placement of the silverware.
Harshberger took many questions from the eager-to-learn students on a number of business etiquette rules such as exchanging business cards, slow eating, body piercings and tattoos and the correct form for handshakes. “Handshake is the only acceptable form of touching in the professional world today. Not the hug; not the air kiss,” she said to laughter from the audience. “And, no fist bumps.”
Harshberger has been providing the Protocol Dinner at RU for “at least six” years, she said, because “Business Etiquette and Dining Skills is cutting-edge training for students going into the professional world. I am delighted to share my expertise with RU students as they prepare for careers in a very competitive business arena.”
Following the dinner, Myrina Booker and Mike Opthof, both juniors from Winchester, were appreciative to be the recipients of Harshberger’s expertise.
“I learned a lot tonight,” said Booker, a management major. “I learned how to properly eat my meal, specifically what silverware is used for what purpose. Also, I learned how to place the silverware when I was finished eating.”
Booker said she also took note of Harshberger’s instructions about business attire. Opthof, a media studies major, said he is now more confident about future business dinners. “I think knowing how to do this, they (dining partners) will say ‘he knows what he’s doing. He has experience with this kind of thing.’ It’s beneficial,” he said.
Before the dinner began, RU’s Office of Alumni Relations snapped professional photos of participating students to post on their LinkedIn profile pages. “Hashtag, no more selfies,” joked Laura Turk, executive director of Alumni Relations.
“Career Services takes great pride in assisting students to acquire the competence and confidence to successfully transition from campus to career,” said Director of Career Services, Ellen Taylor. “Events such as the Protocol Dinner significantly increase the student’s readiness to shake the hand and speak confidently with employers in a variety of networking and interview settings.”
Taylor said students will have an opportunity to practice their newly acquired skills at next week’s Spring Career and Internship Fair (Feb. 26) and Education Job Fair (Feb 28).