B2B Etiquette Event: Making Connections with Confidence

December 07, 2021
Soka students holding plate and wine glass during networking practice
Leo Takaku ’25, Kenichi Price ’25, and Max Takaku ’25 demonstrate the art of balancing plate and glass with one hand while mingling at etiquette event.

Impressing a potential employer while trying to remember which fork is used for the salad can be nerve-racking. Bridges to Business helped prepare SUA students for those moments through its networking and dining etiquette event on Nov. 6.

Close to thirty students and alumni gathered for a simulated business dinner at the Athenaeum. Gina Snyder,  a career counselor and business etiquette trainer, guided students through the meal, teaching them skills and providing advice. From the Continental way of using a fork and knife to shaking hands gracefully while holding a plate and a glass, Snyder had it all covered during the four-hour event.

One key aspect of the event was learning how to make small talk in professional settings, an important stepping stone in forming business connections.

Snyder explained that small talk is more significant than it seems. “Small talk leads to big talk,” she said. “And big talk leads to warm connections. Warm connections are people you can call on for advice, ideas, and suggestions, and they can call on you for the same. This can happen quickly at a networking event, or just anywhere you open yourself up to talking with someone you do not know.”

The participants had many opportunities to practice as they navigated the group and introduced themselves to other students. There were demonstrations showing the proper way of introducing oneself and others in a group of employees and supervisors, and the students had a wonderful time watching fellow students act out the roles of recruiters and directors of companies.

“Coming from Nepal, I had no experience sitting at formal tables and I struggled a lot at the big events I attended here,” said Aashish Sunar ’24. “But after today, I feel much more confident about joining formal dinners and forming connections with people.”

The networking and dining event is one of a series that the Bridges to Business program organizes for participants every year to help them develop the skills required to navigate the business world confidently. The Business Plan Competition and the Spring Break Business Bootcamp are some of the events that will be held in the coming months. Mary Patrick Kavanaugh, the Bridges to Business program director, hopes to organize more social gathering events where students can have fun practicing their networking skills.

The networking events give guidelines, said Kavanaugh, “to help students feel more comfortable at big events, and I love that we can teach that, and I love that we can teach it in an experiential way.”

—Nugnandini Chhetri ’25