The 2018 Etiquette Dinner hosts nearly 200 attendees | News from CoB | SIU

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The 2018 Etiquette Dinner hosts nearly 200 attendees

November 07, 2018, Rhiannon Pyle

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The 2018 Etiquette Dinner was a delightful experience filled with smiles and handshakes for more than 200 sponsors, board members, students, faculty and staff.

Serving as a practice-run for professional dining, the Etiquette Dinner is an annual event that has the reputation of showing students "the importance of being prepared and having a professional image," Tom Harmon, co-chair of the Etiquette Dinner Committee, said.

A professional reception with appetizers and non-alcoholic cocktails preceded the dinner and gave the students the opportunity to mingle with business leaders, board members, faculty and staff. Melenie Broyles, founder of Etiquette Saint Louis, led the etiquette instruction during the reception and dinner. She teaches etiquette techniques with a bit of humor and history to help people of all ages retain these professional skills.

After the reception, the attendees made their way into the banquet hall for a dinner catered by Mary's Restaurant in Herrin, IL. Terry Clark, dean of the college, opened the ceremony and introduced Broyles.

During the meal, Broyles enlightened the audience about how to professionally dine properly. She gave some examples of what not to do, such as placing elbows on the table. She also provided some enlightening information. For instance, the common butter knife is typically misused and misnamed. Usually a smaller non-serrated knife is present and should be used for buttering bread.

Brittney Gibbens, a freshman majoring in accounting and finance, was one of many students attending the dinner.

"My favorite part of the event was learning the different eating styles and what each object and utensils is used for. Melenie made this part of the evening very fun while also teaching us very important professional skills," Gibbens said.

There was a host for each table, which enabled students to ask questions and learn in a comfortable environment. The table hosts said they enjoyed learning new skills alongside the students while also sharing hometown and common interest connections.

"I learned about the challenges students face today in getting through school and on to life after," Mary Mechler, Etiquette Dinner Committee co-chair and table host, said. "There are always challenges, but they do morph a bit over time. It's enlightening to have this interaction with students and get a feel for their perspective."

The importance of networking and social skills becomes increasingly important for students as they progress through their academic and professional careers, according to Broyles. Someone can make professional connections at times when they least expect it and perhaps with unexpected people connections, she said.

However, all professional connections begin with an introduction and a good first impression, participants at the dinner were reminded. Students were given numerous occasions throughout the night to connect with business leaders, faculty and staff.

"I gained important knowledge of how to approach individuals and network in a professional setting," said Gibbens.

Mechler and Harmon, both longtime Etiquette Dinner supporters, provided the closing remarks after dessert was served.

"Exposure to successful Salukis who want them to succeed is a valuable opportunity for our students, and I hope they felt that support!" Mechler said afterward.

"I always learn something new from Etiquette St. Louis but more importantly being with the students just reinforced that this is needed. We have great kids at SIU that we need to support as alumni," Harmon said.

The college presents the etiquette dinner to help new Salukis gain yet another skill for professional success.

The event premier event sponsors were Walt and Janet Schroeder. More event sponsors included Commerce Bank, Tom Harmon, Debra and Kevin Bastien, George Cook, Rich Klassen, Northwest Mutual, Sunil K. and Rupali Sinha, Sally and Jack Buckley, Steve Goepfert, Rooji and Lily Sugathan and Don Welge.