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Students Learn Business Networking Skills

Networking at business social events can be a key part of business and career advancement, particularly for those starting out on a new career.

At Chippewa Valley Technical College, students in two Business Management program classes are working together to learn social skills needed in business, and to learn how to plan business-related events. Their efforts led to a Business Etiquette dinner at the Green Mill Restaurant in Eau Claire Wednesday night.

 The event was organized as a small group project by students in Instructor Shelly Johnson’s Project Management class, for students in Instructor Grace Rich’s Planning Your Business Management Career class. Mike Adams, general manager at Green Mill and a strong supporter of CVTC, was the guest speaker.

“It’s a multi-faceted event, for students to learn how to behave at a professional event that serves a meal,” said Johnson.

“Final semester students in Business Management face a variety of real-world exposure, from skills to help them find a job, keep a job, and advance in a current job,” said Rich.

Students in Project Management get involved in a number of events throughout the semester; a number of them helped out at the College’s recent Career Fair. The business dinner became an event planned by a small group that included Kyle Leuthe, Luke Alta, Carly Cockrum, Alyssa Frey and Moon Xiong..

“The students are learning how to plan, perform and close projects. We have 16 projects this semester,” said Johnson.

“There’s great synergy through the two classes,” added Rich.

Employed at TTM Technology with some oversight responsibilities, Leuthe already has solid business experience, but he appreciates the new experience he’s gaining through the Project Management class.

“This is something I haven’t done before,” he said. “And I’m trying to further myself in my business career.”

A third instructor lending her expertise was Barb Hoffman, who has broad experience in hotel and restaurant management, hospitality and special event planning.

“They are doing very well,” Hoffman said of the students planning the event. “I am pleased with how seriously they are taking it, attending to the details and the follow-through.”

Students were a bit nervous heading into the event; few had been to any kind of formal dinner before.

“I just hope I don’t make a fool of myself and do something wrong,” said Nathan Gilleland. “It’s an etiquette dinner, so we’re going to be watching each other.”

“I’ve never been to a business dinner before, and I hope to get to know how to do it,” said Jennifer Scott, who added that her biggest worry was “keeping up conversation and learning what to say.”

Charlene Gillett confessed her inexperience at such events. “I’m lucky if there’s even a waiter when I eat out,” she said.

Adams said before the dinner that there is need for students to learn and practice networking and social skills. He noted that in his restaurant it’s easy to see the difference between the business professionals and the young people just starting out.

Adams’ remarks to the students went deeper than which fork to use in the course of the meal. He said etiquette is just good manners, and when it comes to how to conduct themselves, “live by the highest level of integrity and ethics every day.”

He also urged them to approach life every day like an interview, striving to make a good impression.

“If you have the highest standards of integrity and ethics, there’s a whole world out there for you,” Adams said.

To view more photos of this event, please visit CVTC's Facebook page.