DEAR HARRIETTE: My first university networking event is coming up, and I have no idea how to conduct myself. I have my business attire ironed and ready; however, my thoughts and game plan are not as set. How can I feel comfortable when meeting people so successful in my field when I've done nothing? Ice breakers seem to rarely break the ice. -- Networking, Boston
DEAR NETWORKING: Consider this an opportunity to learn. Go into the gathering with a mindset of gaining as much knowledge as you can.
When you meet people, ask specific questions that will engage them. Generally, people love to talk about themselves, so smart questions should get them going. When asked about yourself, be prepared to say why you are interested in this field and what you hope to do with your life. This can be a brief yet passionate statement, followed by more questions. Feel free to say to the people who have long been in this field that you look forward to being successful like they are as you build your career. If you find yourself in a quiet location where you have time for a more in-depth conversation, be sure to ask them about what they consider highlights of their journey, as well as challenges.
If the event is more like a traditional cocktail reception where people meet and chat momentarily before moving to the next person, be more strategic. Shake hands and make eye contact, introduce yourself with a strong voice and ask a key question. If you feel like the person might want to talk to you further, ask for a business card and then follow up right away by saying how nice it was to meet the person.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a call late last night that my daughter was arrested while on spring break. I am incredibly disappointed in her, but her crime was nonviolent and will be taken off her record. She is of legal drinking age and got caught drinking on the beach. She paid her own bail. Should I punish her? I am honestly just grateful this wasn't any worse. -- Minor Offense, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR MINOR OFFENSE: Punishment for an adult is tough to enforce. What is more important is to talk to your daughter about what happened. Have her share with you the experience of what occurred, including the arrest and time spent in jail. Talk to her about it in as much detail as she is willing to share. Find out if she knew that it was illegal to drink on the beach. This may not be common knowledge.
Your daughter needs to have clarification on right and wrong, as this is one of the lessons that will come to her in one way or another throughout her life. It is imperative for your daughter to think about her actions and the potential consequences, especially as it relates to alcohol. She should learn where is it illegal to drink or even carry opened bottles of alcohol (which includes her vehicle) and be aware of who will be the designated driver if she is in the company of a party of drinkers.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)