If you are networking correctly, you will find yourself attending many events within the liberty movement.
In addition to networking opportunities, these events can be a boon to unpaid or low paid interns when they are catered. However, food etiquette goes far beyond putting a napkin in your lap or knowing what fork to use and this free food could be a potential pitfall if you don’t follow the proper etiquette.
The first and most important rule is to not overindulge. This lesson is most important for alcoholic drinks but it can be almost as important with food. When you pile your plate with food, not only does it delay those in line behind you, it also makes you look very unprofessional. Only take a small and reasonable amount of food, one or two of the entrees and small portion of whatever sides are available. Most of the time it is possible to discreetly return and get more once everyone has gone through the line.
Another often made mistake is to fill up a plate of food in one hand and hold a drink in your other while at a mingling event. Doing this closes you off as you are unable to shake hands or exchange business cards. While this may be unavoidable, always remember that your primary goal should be to network, not to eat. In general, try to spend as little time eating as possible. This is not saying to eat as fast as possible, but rather to budget your time properly.
Finally, remember to clean up after yourself. Throw away your trash, pick up dropped food and if possible thank your host and servers. After all, it may be free for you but we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Rick Barton was an intern with America’s Future Foundation in summer 2013 and is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo