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Students learn business networking skills


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

At Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), students in two Business Management program classes worked 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 Tuesday, April 22.

The event was organized as a group project by students in Instructor Beth Hanutke’s Project Management class, for students in Business program classes. Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, owner of Feather Communications, was the guest speaker.

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 Etiquette Dinner became an event planned by a small group that included Debra Nemitz, Dawn Pittman, Dawn Johnson and Sara Siddons. They worked with instructor Jennifer Larrabee as their official client.

Students in Instructor Shelly Johnson’s Planning Your Business Management Career class were required to attend. Students in Administrative Professional, Accounting and Human Resources programs also attended.

“Eighty percent of all interviews take place over a meal,” Johnson said. “Students have to understand that an interview is not just in the classroom. They need to have the soft skills to conduct themselves in that kind of environment.”

The Business Etiquette Dinner started out as a way for the Business Management program students in their final semester to work on meal etiquette. It has expanded to include more students and programs.

“We like to be collaborative among the Business programs,” Johnson said.

The Project Management students had to plan the event, including the menu, the speaker, the non-alcohol networking time, the invitations, and the budgeting.

Students wore business attire to the event and got into the spirit immediately with a 45-minute networking session prior to the dinner.

“I’m learning to be more proper,” said student Justin Seipel from Eau Galle. “I grew up in the country and haven’t been to this kind of thing, except what we’ve gone to at school.”

Jessie Braun, a student from Chippewa Falls, knew how she could use a networking session. “I want to market my photography business,” she said. “I’ve had it for six years, doing portrait and wedding photography.”

Leah Myers already has a good business job as a sales administrator for Presto Absorbent Products, but she hasn’t had much experience at business networking or in formal business settings. “I’ve learned a lot about it through my program,” she said. “This is an excellent event.”

A number of CVTC deans and faculty members also attended, networking and sharing tables at the formal dinner with the students.

In her remarks, Rothbauer-Wanish advised the students to have the right people in their corner, highlight the positive, to value hard work and goals, and to take time for reflection.

“Life is full of challenges,” she said. “Positive and dependable people will help you make it through. If you don’t maintain a positive attitude, life is going to be rough.”

With graduation May 9, most of the students will not have to wait long to put their skills to use as they head out into jobs in the business world.