Business Etiquette Tips

Being in a professional environment can be intimidating. Conversations look a little different than those in a casual setting, and there are some ways to navigate the conversation to stand out to employers. Here are some tips to help you understand and be successful in professional environments like career fairs, networking events, and more:

Elevator Pitch (the Introduction)

Attending a career fair or any professional event can be overwhelming, so it’s great to go in with a plan. Start by using an elevator pitch to introduce yourself. An elevator pitch is a brief statement that helps an employer or individual get to know you, learn about your relevant experience, and understand why you are talking to them. Below is a sample you can use specifically to introduce yourself at a Career Fair. Fill in the [italicized text] with your information.

Hello, my name is [your name].I am a [first/second/third/fourth]-year student studying [your major] and am looking for a [full-/part-time job/internship] in [field/industry]Over the past few years, I have [worked/researched/volunteered] with [company/organization/on-campus organization] as the [position/role]Through this position, I have gained skills and knowledge in [your experience]My classes like [name of course] have helped me learn more about [knowledge/interest/goals]I know that [company name] is currently hiring for [name of open position]I am very interested in applying. Could you tell me more about [opportunities available/application process/training/etc.]?”

Career Fair

During a Career Fair, it's important to start the conversation, and be ready to keep things rolling. Consider some of the following points to discuss and ask questions about.

  • Mission and vision of the organization
  • Size of organization in the industry/potential growth for the industry/competitors
  • Details about products/services and potential new markets/growth
  • Individual's experience working for the company
  • Details about the job/internship duties, who the role works with, and projects the role works on
  • Geographical locations of branches/facilities and relocation opportunities
  • Methods of training and evaluation
  • Opportunities for promotion, growth, and certifications/further education
  • Recent significant projects/products
  • People you know who work for the company
  • Company culture and environment

Once your conversation with the representative ends, offer them a copy of your resume, and ask them for a business card or contact information. Always follow up with a professional email to follow up within 48 hours, like this:

Dear Ms. Howard,

Thanks again for the opportunity to meet you at the Southeastern Louisiana University Career Fair today. It was great learning more about the new branch you all plan to open soon in Slidell, and it would be a pleasure to contribute to the transition to a new office space.

From our conversations, I was excited to hear that The Soleau Group is very invested in the local community. My current volunteering has been one of my favorite parts of my college experience and was glad that your organization values community involvement as well.

I would love to connect to further discuss a potential career with The Soleau Group. I have attached a copy of my resume and have applied in Handshake. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Thanks again for your time!


Salah T. Lion

Networking Events or Receptions

For some business-related events at conferences or on campus, there may opportunities to network with light refreshments. Here are a few tips to successfully navigate these conversations:

  • If you're holding a beverage, hold your drink in your non-dominant hand to keep your dominant hand available for handshakes.
  • If holding hors-d'oeuvres (light food/appetizers), try to position yourself close to a table so you can put down your plate to shake hands.
  • Circulate and try to meet people you have not met before.
  • While the food may be delicious, keep in mind your primary goal - to network! Focus more on conversations and meeting people than eating during the event.
  • Avoid chewing with your mouth open or speaking with food in your mouth.
  • Keep business cards when people give them to you.
  • Silence your phone and avoid using it.


While networking, here are some topics to start or continue conversations as you move around the room:



  • Compliment the event, host, food, or venue
  • Comment on topics or items of interest to everyone involved in the event 
  • Sports
  • Current events
  • Work or internship experiences
  • Major studied or university/college attended
  • Best-selling media/books
  • Do not tell inappropriate jokes
  • Avoid discussing religion, politics or sex

Job Interview Meal

Sometimes during a job interview, you may be invited to attend a lunch or dinner to get to know the organization and your potential colleagues or supervisor. These situations can give you insight into the work culture in an environment outside of the interview. Use this time to ask additional questions about the company, role, or people. Don't forget that the interviewers are still evaluating you to see if you're a good fit for the position during the meal. Here are a few tips to feel confident at a job interview lunch or dinner:

  • While the food may be delicious, keep in mind your primary goal - to sell yourself! Focus more on conversation and asking questions than eating during the meal.
  • Allow the interviewers to order first; choose a menu item similar in price to their orders. The expectation is that the employer will pay for the meal.
  • Choose food that is easy to eat and does not require you to use your hands.
  • Brush up on dining etiquette with this video, particularly if you're going to an upscale restaurant.
  • Do not order alcohol (even if interviewers do).


Remember to dress to impress! See examples of attire here. Always dress up (business professional) if you're unsure.

Career Fairs or Interview = Business Professional Attire     Networking or Receptions = Business Casual Attire