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Socializing in Professional Settings

Here are basic guidelines to socializing in professional settings. The areas covered follow a chronological format beginning with your arrival at the event.


Arriving at the Event

  • Show up on time.

  • Wear your name tag on your right side since it can be read more easily by another person as you shake hands.

  • Use an “official title” (i.e., Dr. Smith) when greeting someone, even if you know the individual personally.

  • When introducing executives, begin with the highest ranking person.

  • Make sure that you hear the person’s name. If not, ask to have the name repeated.

  • To remember a name after an introduction, repeat it several times during the conversation.

  • Make immediate eye contact and smile when introduced.

  • Always shake hands from a standing position.

  • Whenever possible, volunteer your name first. This demonstrates friendly confidence.



  • Eye contact is the best way to develop rapport with others. Direct eye contact conveys your interest, attention and confidence.

  •  If others order alcoholic beverages, do not feel obliged to order one also.

  •  Avoid topics that may lead to conflict or be inappropriate, such as politics, gossip, religion, and off-color jokes.

  •  Avoid using cell phones while socializing. Silence the ringer or turn off the phone during social events and presentations.



  •  Be as polite to servers as you are to those with whom you are dining.

  •  Once seated, place your napkin in your lap. Put it on your chair when leaving the table temporarily. When finished eating, place your napkin to the left side of your plate.

  • Cutlery should be used starting from the outside in.

  •  The bread plate is located on the left side. If you start the bread basket, always pass it to your right. Help yourself after the basket has circulated around the table.

  • Your water glass, coffee cup, and other glassware are located on the right. Wait for the host to begin eating or start when invited by the host to do so. Do not begin until everyone at your table is served.


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