When you run your own business, networking comes with it, as much as we may love or hate it. I have a love/hate relationship with it myself, do I go alone? Don’t I? How do I break the ice? When is the right time to hand over a business card without seeming too pushy? But one thing I’m not stuck on is knowing what to wear to a networking event. Knowing what to wear when, is kind of my thing, so I thought todays post would be a good de-stresser for those running their own business and killing it in killer heels! Or flats. OH&S issues can be pricey!
What To Wear To A Networking Event
The most important thing to be aware of at a networking event is that everyone is judging. And not in a mean way. The first impression people get from you could be anything from seeing you from behind as they walk in the door (check that your hair is done even at the back!), from across the room, side on, in a crowd of other business men and women and most often, in a sea of black!
So, rushing out the door in an outfit that’s unplanned, last minute and doesn’t make you feel on top of the world will get you off to a bad start. You’re there to network and impress so you can gain stronger contacts and more clients, dress like you’re Jessica from Suits and own every single step you take in there!
Know your assets too, it’s the perfect time to wear something that highlights the areas of your body that you love, but keep it professional. It’s not going to be about sex appeal at all, so cleavage, cut outs and anything too short or see-through should be kept to a minimum. If you’ve got a small waist, show it off instead, or wonderful legs? We want to see them! Better yet, that fabulous face and your bright eyes need some attention too.
The next most important thing to know is that the best attention point at a networking event is always going to be your face, so wearing something that brings more attention to that area is the best thing you can do. If that’s a neckline, a great necklace, big earrings, a flattering colour or a fabulous bold lip, then that’s what you’ve got to do. You want eye contact and hold it and dressing to bring attention to your face can help you do this.
The Dress Code, there’s no hard and fast rule on this, except dress to impress. Some networking events are casual, run in a cafe, or in a giant warehouse. Some wear jeans, some wear cocktail dresses. If you’re unsure, an email to the event host doesn’t hurt, but before you get in touch, a sneaky way to find out is to go to their website or Facebook and look at their past event photographs to get an idea.
So, if the ideas above have you all or sorted for what to wear to a networking event, and you know you’re going to strut through the next one, here’s a few tips that I use when networking that might put a kick in your step next time you’re out!
1. Networking events can be daunting if you’re doing it alone, but there’s lots of other stag men and women there too, use this to your advantage. You have something in common, you’re both nervous and introductions on the subject of coming alone often help to break the ice.
2. Wear a conversation piece. The last networking event I went to I saw a woman wearing a pair of Sophia Webster shoes that said ‘Boss Lady’ on them, I now want to buy them, but I’m reading a book on financial management that says I shouldn’t. Wearing something eye catching, like a brooch, cute pair of shoes or a striking dress, helps to start conversations, you’ll have more people approaching you, I guarantee it!
3. Let them do the talking. People love talking, often about themselves. Look at me, for example, I talk a lot, and I write a lot, often sharing my own opinion. See? And I love it when people let me talk and talk and talk at networking events, but I don’t let it get the better of me too much. Ask questions, listen, let them talk and they’ll do that for you in return, you’ll make stronger connections this way.
Now if that doesn’t make you want to go out and print more business cards and put on your boss lady heels, I don’t know what will! If you liked this post on what to wear to a networking event and want more advice on your professional image as a business goal digger, you know where I’ll be!