Stepping into the real world and finding a professional career is an intimidating thought for most college students.

To calm some nerves and learn professional tips, the eighth annual Etiquette and Networking Dinner was held on Sunday.

The Keynote Presenter for the evening was Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and the Rhode Island School of Design Gregory Victory.

Victory is the founder and principal of an educational consulting business, “Leading2Victory,” and has created a series of award-winning programs relating to issues of diversity in the workplace.

Each table at the dinner had four students and one alumni of Keene State College in hopes that students could engage with professionals.

“Etiquette is the best place to make a bad impression,” Victory told students. Victory gave several tips during the dinner on correct etiquette along with the dos and don’ts of going to a professional meeting or interview in a dining setting.

Victory said that he does a variety of different programs at colleges and also at corporations. Topics he covers include diversity education, leadership training, networking, career development and dining and professional etiquette.

Victory said that he does ten to 12 programs a year and has been doing them for almost ten years.

“Part of achieving these professional skills is learning by doing and a lot was by doing my own research by talking to people, asking questions, talking to CEOs and hiring managers from different types of companies to get a sense of what their looking at. Really I have done a lot of watching how people engage and interact,” Victory said.

Holding the event was Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Student Leadership Brandon Mathieu.

Mathieu said that the dinner is one of the leadership development opportunities put on for students. “We try to introduce attendees to just an array of different leadership development skills and practices that maybe we don’t touch on in some of our different programs. This dinner is geared towards etiquette and business networking,” Mathieu said.

Victory said he has been the facilitator for the dinner the past couple of years here at Keene State.

“I went to all of these type of things when I was at undergrad at Syracuse, which is how I got to know him. When I first started here he was instantly someone that I thought we could partner with to find a program that would resonate with students,” Mathieu said.

Mathieu said that alumni volunteer to come to the dinner to speak with current students.

“I work with the advancement division to identify alumni who I think have different genres professionally and could maybe contribute to the conversation around networking. They help engage in the conversation. Aside from this program, I think that alumni interaction with current students is really important,” Mathieu said.

Sophomore and Secondary Education and Spanish Major Bridget Pierce was an attendee of the dinner. Pierce said she found out about the event through a friend who heard about it through student government.

“It was a lot more networking-based, which I thought was really interesting. Greg touched on a lot of things that you may not necessarily think about. I can use the networking tools no matter what situation I’m in,” Pierce said.

Piece also said how Victory spoke about how people are not necessarily always hired by their skills, but are more likely to be hired by people that they know.

“Honestly I would say the biggest thing I will professionally take away from this is how important it is to write a thank you note. It’s something that people don’t really think about. I even forget to write a thank you note after I get a birthday present from family, but I know that when I get a thank you note I feel so awesome. It is something that I should have thought of before but now that someone has said it to me I will remember it,” Pierce said.

Victory finished by saying the same thing. “I would leave students with just how important a thank you note is. Really it’s sort of finding a way to build a connection with somebody and taking that extra step to leave something that is more engaging than email. Email is cold; it’s not warm. It doesn’t set you apart from someone else. It’s very impersonal because we use it for everything now. People don’t even pick up the phone anymore, so a thank you note makes a huge difference,” she said.

Emma Hamilton can be contacted at ehamilton@kscequinox.com