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Master Networking and Dining Etiquette at Mason’s Annual Graduate and Professional Student Event

February 10, 2017

By Lori Cohen Scher and Julie Choe Kim

Have you ever attended a professional cocktail hour where you had to manage holding a drink glass, a plate, a fork AND had to shake someone’s hand and exchange business cards?

Have you ever dined with a potential employer and noticed she had a piece of spinach stuck in her front tooth?

Have you ever gone to a networking event all by yourself and walked into a crowded room where there was no one there you knew?

These common, and not to mention awkward, moments happen to us all.

As graduate and professional students, there is no doubt your professors, advisers, or career counselors have emphasized to you the importance of networking in order to establish yourself professionally. The ability to grow a strong circle of contacts will increase your professional visibility and will help set you apart on the job market. However, for many of us, the very thought of even entering a professional networking situation can provoke great fear and self-doubt.

The best way to overcome these networking anxieties is to get some practice!

The Graduate and Professional Student Networking & Etiquette Dinner, which takes place at the Arlington Campus each year, is open to ALL graduate and professional students at Mason. This fun evening (this year happening on Friday, February 23th) is designed to help you practice your networking and dining etiquette skills in a relaxed atmosphere over a delicious meal, all for a reasonable cost of $20.

The evening will begin with hors d’oeuvres and networking practice facilitated by Cathleen Hanson of the International School of Protocol. Cathleen will guide you through the evening, which will also include a seated meal and a fabulous dessert reception. At the event you will have the opportunity to connect with Mason alumni who will serve as table networking hosts. This is a unique opportunity not only to practice and refine your skills, but also to network directly with employers who may work in your industry area of interest. The evening will provide ample time for making connections and asking questions about some common networking and etiquette dilemmas.

In addition to the actual dinner, students have the opportunity to register for a free pre-event LinkedIn Speedshop. This session presented by University Career Services will cover the top ten things you need to know about this valuable social networking tool. The LinkedIn Speedshop is open to all graduate and professional students whether or not you plan to stay for dinner.

Digging Deeper: Why will this be such a valuable experience?

The skills you will learn and practice at the LinkedIn Speedshop and Networking & Etiquette Dinner will be valuable for graduate and professional students across disciplines and industry areas, whether you are currently employed in your field of interest, are actively on the market for a job or internship, or are planning for a job search in the future. The reality is that even if you are at the beginning of a multi-year graduate program, now is the time to begin making intentional connections with people in your field. You may be attending academic, research, and professional conferences on the local, national, or even international levels. These fellow conference-goers could become your future collaborators, colleagues, or employers. Your program may also organize a symposium for your discipline and/or a mixer with prospective students or recent alumni; making meaningful connections at these types of events can lay the groundwork for conversations about future opportunities.

Once you are searching for a job or working, business meals and work-related social and networking functions will pop up with regularity. A prospective employer may take you out for lunch or dinner as a part of your interview. In academia, interview schedules for candidates for faculty and administrator positions often include a meal with search committee members, department colleagues, and/or students. Whether during a lunchtime interview or a dinner for all the new hires at your company, you have an opportunity to make the best professional impression possible.

Join Us!

We hope you will join us at the dinner! By participating in this event, you can equip yourself with tools that will help you stand out in a positive way among colleagues and employers. For detailed information about the evening, check out the Graduate and Professional Student Networking & Etiquette Dinner website. Here you will find a registration link as well as the evening’s agenda and other great resources to get you prepared. With limited space and registration closing soon, be sure to reserve your spot today!

Edited February 07, 2018 by Andrew Quillen

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