Earlier this year, I attended a Business Etiquette Workshop in Roanoke presented by the co-founders of Valley Business Front Magazine, with emcee John Carlin and a panel of experts on the topic. It was appropriately titled, “Best Foot Forward” and was conceived because of all the mail and comments that come into Roanoke’s premiere business magazine.  The most common inquiry is about workplace manners and civility.

The seminars were 30-45 minutes each with information on how to distribute a business card by protocol expert Kathy Harshberger;  to how to behave on social media sites, by Leslie Coty of Coty Connections. Stuart Mease from Virginia Tech was on hand to share best practices in job interviewing, echoing my sentiments on why you should send a thank you note even when you are rejected for a job.

I learned about the common mishaps that I’ve committed. I also learned the do’s and don’t of fork holding and workplace attire. When it was over I wanted to run to my nearest library and check out the latest edition of Emily Post’s Guide to Good Manners.

If I learned anything from the “Best Foot Forward” workshop, it’s that no one will ever tell you you lack in the social graces.  Ain’t that the truth! I also learned from Garry Norris, owner of Roanoke’s Express Professional Staffing, of what makes the ideal employee: 15% comes from skills and knowledge and the other 85% is soft skills. In other words, a lack of social skills can seriously hold you back in your career.