'Netiquette' points out how little things make big difference


Sukup Manufacturing external relations manager Rachel Geilenfeld (second from left) talks with a table of students and a server during the "Put Your Best Fork Forward: Business Week Netiquette Dinner." Photo by Jeff Budlong.

Despite what Mom may have said, elbows on the table are not necessarily a bad thing.

That was one of many etiquette and networking tips Sukup Manufacturing external relations manager Rachel Geilenfeld shared with about 50 people in the Memorial Union Gallery Tuesday night.

Geilenfeld, an Iowa State alumna, led an interactive discussion as part of the "Put Your Best Fork Forward: Business Week Netiquette Dinner." It was designed to help Iowa State students gain necessary skills when dining in formal settings and provide networking tips to leave the best impression in social situations.

"This is a relevant skill, especially in the business field, because this will be part of your interaction with colleagues within your industry," Geilenfeld said. "This is part of the extra stuff you want to use to make yourself stand out. Etiquette is becoming a standard, and if you don't know, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage."

Getting involved

Business Week, Sept. 16-20,  is designed to support students' professional development and provide opportunities to network.

Senior marketing and management major Emily Hammer attended the netiquette event for the second straight year, and said the information helped her at summer conferences.

"It was nice to have that skill set because I was sitting with other people who were in the professional industry," she said. "I knew some of the etiquette things may just set me apart from other people. There are a lot of recruiters or employers who will take you out to lunch or dinner to get to know you, and they are paying attention to your manners and skills."

Hammer said unfamiliar situations can lead to learning. Even as a senior, Hammer still meets new faculty, staff and students, and credits professors for urging students to take their learning outside the classroom.

"The professors here are focused on getting us jobs and getting us into a career," Hammer said. "I have had so many professors who push going to the career fair, going to these events and they understand I am not going to college to go to college. I am here to set myself apart from other students."

Helpful tips

Some of Geilenfeld's tips drew laughs, but she said many people are unaware of common practices that can elevate job seekers in the eyes of prospective employers, including:

  • Know your water glass. "The most important thing in the setting is to know your water glass is to your right. At every meal in a banquet setting someone will grab the water to their left ... and pretty soon one person has two waters and one person has no water."
  • Nametags. "A nametag is always worn on (your) right side. When you shake hands with someone with your right hand it creates a line of sight to your nametag."
  • Watch your elbows. "No elbows on the table only applies to when food is being eaten. If there is no food on the table, you are welcome to lean or put your elbows on the table to help facilitate conversation."