I am often asked for some advice and guidance when it comes to do’s and don’ts regarding networking events. Here are a few of the most common topics and my take on what will help you achieve the best results from your networking efforts.
What to wear (or NOT!):
It doesn’t have to be a suit & tie or a dress and heels, however being formal is never a bad thing. You are far better off being over-dressed versus too casual.
1) Are jeans ok? Yes, and I am seeing this more and more. That said, I am also seeing jeans with nice shoes and collared shirt (for men) or a nice solid, neutral sweater. Ladies are also wearing jeans with I nice blouse or shell with a blazer. If you’re going to go with the blue jeans route, may I also suggest the darker denim and please…save the shredded jeans for the weekend.
2) No tie, no problem! Although I love the look of a tie and I enjoy many of their patterns, if a man is wearing a nice, button down shirt with a nice pair of slacks that is absolutely fine. Some men wear a suit and no tie – which is also a nice look.
3) Sleeveless? In my humble opinion this can and does go very wrong. Unfortunately, I feel this is a bit too casual. There are always exceptions (such as a Luau or bbq event) but for the most part, I find the sleeveless look to be an atrocity. No one wants to see an arm pit, sorry – not sorry. I have seen deodorant clumps, stubble and I won’t even discuss the odor issue. A short sleeve will suffice, just please cover the pits!
4) Skirts/dresses; as with anything else in a professional setting, keep it classy. Nothing too tight, too short or too low. The goal is to impress others with your mind, your wit and your personality. When people try too hard to win attention by being too revealing, they will often get the eyeballs but not the respect.
5) Worst attire I’ve ever witnessed at a business networking event? Ass-less chaps. Enough said.
6) Golf shirts. The golf shirt is a perfectly acceptable item to wear. My personal favorite is the one that has a logo embroidered onto them.
7) Smile! Of course, you’re never fully dressed without a smile. =)
8) Posture. Do not underestimate the importance of body language. Your posture will either project confidence or lack thereof. Stand tall and have belief in yourself. You’ve got this!