Networking outside the office is your best chance to meet new people who can help promote you, your passion and your business. It’s also a no-man’s land when it comes to the dress code.
Early in the year, I met a woman slipping and sliding in a parking lot walking into a networking event…it was winter in Ohio! We struck up a conversation about the icy sidewalk and when we finally got into the building she confided in me that this was her first networking event. I showed her to the meeting room and told her that she was welcome to sit with me if that would make her feel more comfortable.
After our official introductions, she told me that she had intended to be at this same event last month, but when she saw what everyone had on, she turned around and went back home. She said she was a “jeans” type of person and not comfortable dressing up. The first thing that I did was applaud her for actually making it to the meeting that morning; she wore jeans but did not turn away and go back home. The second thing I did was point out to her that there were others in the room that had jeans on.
What should we wear to networking events? At most networking events that I attend, I see people wear what they would wear in the course of their normal working day, which means that there are a range of outfits from suits, to business casual, to jeans, uniforms and even exercise apparel. I guess you could ask yourself, what is the norm of my industry, profession or company?
Another thing to consider is what type of event will you be attending?
Where and when is it?
What is on the agenda?
Many small business owners think about what they wear as part of their personal branding – for some that might mean wearing uniforms or polo shirts with their company logo, but for others it might just be a certain style or color.
I tend to dress as if I were going to see a client; although I do dress differently depending on the industry of the client that I am meeting. It is ALWAYS important to be well groomed. Depending on your profession, I think it helps to wear what you feel comfortable in, that way you will feel relaxed, can be yourself, and can enjoy the occasion.
First impressions do matter. What also matters is that you attend the event! I am proud that his strong lady was able to walk into the event, even though she was concerned about what she had on! She made a good, first (and icy) step toward growing her business. Luckily, she works in a “themed” industry so it will be easy and appropriate for her to wear jeans with her casual themed shirts and jackets.
How do you decide what to wear for networking events?
About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207