While preparing for the networking event, you normally think about things you are going to do and say. Don’t forget, your appearance is also very important. Decide on what to wear to a networking event in advance. It is human nature to automatically start assessing anyone who walks into the room. They say — clothes don’t make the man, but they also say — first impressions are the most lasting. Go ahead, make your first impression the one to remember.
So, what to wear for the networking event? Before choosing your outfit, read the detailed description of the event carefully and consider the following :
- Type of event
Some events are more traditional in style and yield for casual or business casual outfit. Other may involve physical activities, say go-karts or golf, maybe even zip lining. Some events are a more sit-down type. Some conferences will include both: traditional business networking and after hours fun.
- Event location (Indoors or outdoors)
- Weather (self-explanatory)
- Special instructions from the event organizers (say all-white attire or business casual, or closed toe shoes)
Some people may think that business casual dress code is a no-brainer. Just go for a professional looking suite with button-down shirt for guys (tie and jacket are optional) and for a pants or skirt suit for girls (can be replaced by a dress too). It may not be that easy, but don’t worry!
Here are a few rules of what to wear for the networking event. Follow them and you will be the star of every event you attend.
Rule #1. The outfit that is comfortable.
Sorry, I am not talking about yoga pants. I am talking about the outfit that will not bother you. You are about to enter a room full of people you don’t know. Stressful enough. What if an item of clothing is to tight or a shoe gives you a blister? What if trousers are a little too long or a shoulder strap keeps falling off? You don’t want your focus taken away from the important conversations you are about to have. Try to avoid wearing brand-new clothes for the first time or an article that you know get you in trouble.
Rule #2. The outfit that makes you feel good.
During networking you can use all the confidence you can get. A well-fitted suit or flattering dress can give you a boost you need.
Rule #3. The outfit that talks but not screams.
You definitely want to stand out from the crowd. Bright colors or questionable combinations or exposing too much skin may not be the way. Dress simple yet stylish. To show your personality you may use one unique accent like a tie, a brooch or a ring. An interesting-looking piece will attract attention and compliments. Back this conversation starter up with a great story and you will be the center of attention.
Rule #4.The outfit that doesn’t break your bank.
If you attend many events for work, you are probably not getting reimbursed for your clothes expenses. You don’t have to go crazy and get a new outfit every time. Use garments you already have in your closet and mix-match them according to the event requirements.
Rule #5. Better overdressed than underdressed.
It is better be over-prepared and end up dressed in suit at the all-jeans event vs the opposite. When in doubt, always go for good old business casual.
Let me share a curious story. Several years ago I participated in the kick-off event of the international company I worked at the moment. The entire team was joined by top managers from other countries at the beautiful resort. Since it was November, I didn’t even thing about packing a swimsuit. Well, I should have read a description. Apparently, sauna and a heated pool were a set for one of our networking events. I ended up “overdressed” in a bathrobe, but actually I felt more comfortable that way. Next thing I know, I am in the sauna with the regional manager having one of the best conversations. He gave me a great recommendation when I left the company.
Looks are indeed important when it comes to business events. Do your homework and prepare accordingly for the occasion. Keep in mind though, your suit will not do the talking. Make sure you are brushing on your conversation skills here.