What to wear to a networking event
I know – this is really non sequitur, right?
Some people have probably never wondered what to wear to a networking event. Others don’t care. And others take an inordinate amount of time in deciding what they’re going to wear.
Presumably of course (!) you’re going to wear whatever it is you wore to work. Because most networking events take place either during business hours or immediately after. For example, BA5 (Business after Five) Chamber of Commerce type events.
And because you dress appropriately for work it would therefore mean you’re dressed appropriately to attend a networking event as well. Right?
Advance planning required
As I mentioned in the business cards article last week, pockets are very helpful at networking events.
Pockets mean you can implement a ‘filing system’ at a networking event.
Therefore, wearing an outfit that has pockets is a good idea.
Do you have a signature colour? I know one woman who always wears purple.
Joe Pulizzi (one of my business heroes) of Content Marketing Institute always wears orange. [I only just discovered Joe always wears orange recently – long after I’d chosen orange as one of Get Googlin’s signature colours. Honest!]
Waaayyyy back in my Reserve Bank days I worked with a guy whose signature brand was braces and bow ties. Forget the boring ole old-man black ties & braces, James had an amazing collection.
And talking of bow ties – here’s a young man whose business is bow ties. If you’ve ever wondered how to tie a bow tie (yes – there’s a knack!) Moziah Bridges of Mow’s Bows in Memphis can help:
When I was on the board of the Sales & Marketing Institute and still very green, Richard Gee told me to get a signature style (I wasn’t brave enough at the time).
Richard’s was to wear the NZ flag. He’s a very patriotic and proud kiwi. So he got several flags made into waistcoats and jackets. It’s not my style but it’s his.
I was also at a seminar in Auckland recently where the presenter’s signature style was his in-yer-face breast pocket kerchief. He made a bit of a deal about it being flamboyantly “him”.
Of course – your signature style can also be a corporate wardrobe. Accounted4 (a firm of switched on chartered accountants in Cambridge, NZ) has one of the best corporate wardrobes I’ve seen. They always look stylish and professional, yet still approachable.
As expected for your industry / profession
By this I mean that you want to avoid disconnect-type surprises when someone meets you. I referenced this a bit in the article about LinkedIn Profile Photos.
Sure – you might think it’s clever to be extraordinarily different in your wardrobe, but if it means the person you’re talking with is still trying to reconcile some aspect of your wardrobe with what they expected, you’ve lost their attention. Their attention is elsewhere and not on what you’re talking about.
And fine! If you’re reading this and thinking that you don’t want those kind of narrow-minded clients anyway, that’s your prerogative.
But what is “expected” when it comes to business wear?
Steve Jobs probably had just a big an influence on work attire as he did on computing & technology… we no longer go to work in the three piece suit.
Although for some professions that’s still a given. And I think appropriate. And expected.
Because it’s all about perception. Dressing a certain way doesn’t (necessarily) make you any more competent than if you dressed another way. A way contrary to expectations.
However, the way someone could perceive you will make all the difference. Maybe not to your performance, but possibly to your bank balance!
Why? Because we expect people to be dressed a certain way in accordance with their profession.
As I said above, you want to avoid surprising people in a negative way.
Because, in marketing, perception is everything.
Perception is reality.
You need to be dressed within the bounds of how your clients would expect you to dress according to your industry / profession. You know what that is. You also know whether you are bucking the system or not.
Remember: you only get one chance to make a positive first impression.
And at networking events you want to give yourself every opportunity to make a fantastic first impression (because you’ll only get one shot at it).
I realise this may offend many women but I’m going to say it any way.
Please – be respectful of the people you may meet!
You want to be remembered for your professional acumen, not what you wore!
Avoid making others uncomfortable.
Some women wear outfits that reveal just too much skin to be considered suitable for work. Save those for the nightclub or special event.
Action Step #1 – If you’ve been playing around with a signature style or colour start getting serious with it. If this is something you’ve been thinking about doing, then jump off the fence and just do it.
Action Step #2 – Plan ahead when you get dressed on the day of networking events. If possible (ladies) wear something with a couple of (filing) pockets.
Action Step #3 – Identify a couple of different outfits in your wardrobe that are ‘networking suitable’ (pockets, appropriateness for your profession / industry, etc).
Action Step #4 – Tied in with #1 – if you’ve been umming and ahhing about that corporate wardrobe and haven’t done anything about it yet, then take the next step and do it.
Referral Marketing Tips – the best place to wear your name badge – there’s a best way and the way everyone else wears their name badges at networking events. This easy to read article explains the “where” and the “why”.
Networking Mojo Tips podcast
Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act (2007) – NZ Anti Spam Act
Empathy 101 – the difference between empathy and sympathy
I just looooove answering questions so please (!) – send me an email with your question, frustration, query – I’d welcome the opportunity to be able to help.
Let’s connect at LinkedIn
If we’re not connected at LinkedIn yet I’d certainly welcome the opportunity of adding you to my professional network. I’d enjoy hearing that you’ve read this post when you send the connection request, too.
If you found this worthwhile and valuable and would like to receive information like this direct into your inbox I’d love to send it to you there.
If you’d like that too then please just enter your email address in the STAY INFORMED space below. You won’t be spammed – promise!
You can unsubscribe at any time as well – it’s a simple one-click process.
Did you visit this page direct from Linkedin…?
If you’ve visited this article from the Linkedin post I wrote and would like to participate in the Linkedin conversation (it will help raise your Linkedin profile) then click here to return to that page so you can comment.