Sharon Kornstein, AICI, CIP at Wharton Club of NY

On January 28th at 6:00, 17 professionally diverse men and women arrived at the 38th floor of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher Flom LLP to learn from the expert, Sharon Kornstein, W’80, founder and president of ImageDesign LLC, an image consulting company. Kornstein began the evening asking participants to shake hands with their neighbor and then supply feedback. Luckily, we all had good handshakes and Kornstein described the handshake as the only appropriate physical contact in business which if properly done, conveys self-esteem and authority. The evening touched on the do’s and don’ts of introducing clients, business dress vs. casual dress and the non-verbal communication messages that we send. After about 45 minutes of discussions on individual situations and scenarios, the evening ended with dining etiquette, discussing both the American and continental style.

Sharon Lowenheim, WG’81, a Professional Organizer and owner of Organizing Goddess, Inc. ( found most useful the discussion of business dress vs. elegant business casual vs. business casual. “Appropriate dress is so different from industry to industry. We tend to get comfortable with what we are used to. As a service provider who works across industries, it’s so valuable for me to be reminded that I need to tailor my outfit to the client’s firm.”

Alan Rackson, W’83, owner of Rackson Technology Solutions, LLC found some concepts that he thought were unambiguous to be less straightforward than he previously thought based upon the number of questions asked by fellow alumni and the discussions that pursued. “It was obvious that Sharon has studied business etiquette in detail and is the subject matter expert! While some of her presentation was common sense and behaviors I had known about, it was nice to hear them again in a concise presentation as a healthy reminder of social and business do’s and don’ts. I also came home with several new helpful tips such as the concept of mirroring someone’s posturing in situations where you are unfamiliar with cultural customs. An excellent event with a great topic, discerning audience and knowledgeable speaker that will propel my social networking and career forward. Thank you Wharton Club of New York.”

Kornstein offered some tips about dress, dining and non-verbal communication:

  • Dress: Business dress is a continuum with business casual being the preeminent section for mid-level dressing. Always wear a collared shirt, jacket is optional, and keep accessories at the same level as the clothing. Consider your industry, corporate culture and activities for the day when deciding on the level of dress.
  • Introductions: When introducing two people to each other, say the name of the more important person first and introduce the other person to him/her. (Client is more important than boss, elected official is more important than friend).
  • Dining: Use silverware from the outside in; napkin doesn’t go back on the table until you’re through eating; glasses are on the right, bread plate on the left.
  • Meeting: Eye contact, smile, firm handshake and strong posture.
  • Practice the non-verbal technique of mirroring: get in sync with your conversational partner’s non-verbal communication by using the same body language i.e. drink when they take a sip, cross or uncross your legs, lean forward or back when they do, and keep communication open by holding hands at your side, not across your body.

Sandra James, W’78, Deloitte LLP believed everyone learned something new and only wished we had more time than what had been allotted. ”The information Sharon shared with us on etiquette is helpful not only in our business relationships but can be applied to our interactions outside of work as well. With the many opportunities there are to network in this day and age, it is always good to know how to approach a group of people at an event and when not to approach a group. Sharon was able to get everyone involved in the discussion and hearing about the lunch etiquette in different cultures from other attendees, for me, was very educational. This was a very good topic and Sharon did an excellent job presenting the information. Thank you for reaching out to Sharon to speak to us.”

Sharon Kornstein’s event was organized by Jennifer Gregoriou, as part of the WCNY Speaker Series Committee. For those who missed the event, Kornstein can be reached at:

Jennifer R. Gregoriou W’78

Chair, WCNY Speaker Series

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