Networking events are a great way to expand business contacts and prospective customers. While they are business oriented (and usually fairly relaxed) it’s really important you look the part. People buy people and trust others according to their appearance. They may perceive you as professional, intelligent, credible, successful and so on, all depending on what you wear so it’s worth spending some time thinking about what your appearance says about you.
There is no one, definitive rule when it comes to dressing for networking events – much will depend on the industry you work in and your personal style preferences. And while most networking events are geared towards a more business-casual wardrobe, a suit is perfectly acceptable if that’s what your comfortable in or you’re going along to an event straight from work.
Read on for my top tips on what you should consider when dressing for a networking event and what you must avoid.
Comfort should be your priority
Something which is very obvious is discomfort. Whether someone is wearing a jacket and tie when it’s too hot, or a short sleeved dress when the air con is on full blast, it not only looks awkward, it also impacts the focus of the person affected. Prepare for various scenarios – if you feel the cold take a jacket or jumper with you and if you tend to sweat when nervous consider wearing colours that are less likely to show sweat marks.
Not only can wearing the right colours make us look younger and healthier we can also use colour to express our personality and enhance our message.
- Soft and warm colours – approachable
- Strong contrasts – authority & assertive
- Blues – great communicator
- Warm, bright colours worn in unusual colour combinations – creative
- Bright vivid colours contrasted with dark colours – dynamic
- Deep colours worn together (eg; fir green & burgundy) – elegant
- Shades of purple (can be used to soften a hard look) – sensitive
Accessorise with flair
Not only are your shoes and accessories what tie your outfit together, they are a great way to add personality to your outfit and can separate you out from others so don’t overlook these items. A bold statement necklace or tie can really dress an outfit up. And ensure your business cards are kept in a good quality case and you’ve a decent pen in your pocket or bag.
Don’t overthink it
One of the most common mistakes with networking is overthinking what to wear. People tend to over complicate things due to a fear of being judged by others. The trick here is to stop worrying about what others might think of you, instead aim for comfort and focus on how you feel in your outfit. If you feel good you will be more relaxed and at your best in conversations.
Sometimes knowing what to avoid is as important as knowing what works well – steering clear of the following image breakers will take you a long way:
- Badly fitting jackets, skirts and trousers
- Gaping buttons
- See through fabrics
- Evening fabrics worn with day wear
- Bare leg visible
- Skirts & dresses worn above the knee
- Unkempt hair (including facial hair)
- Excessive jewellery
- Body odour
- Heavy make-up
- Dirty/worn shoes
- Battered/bulging bag, briefcase or trouser pockets
- Hair ornaments
- Overpowering perfume or aftershave
- Bitten and/or dirty fingernails
- Chipped nail vanish
- Bad breath
- Showing too much cleavage
To learn more about how to dress in a way that reflects your style and personality call me for a FREE 30 minute consultation.