Updated: Apr 18, 2019
You can never be overdressed or over educated. – Oscar Wilde
Do you struggle with deciding what to wear to networking events? Does the thought of creating outfits to attend functions, that include a networking component, induce stress?
I spend a lot of time at networking events. I always make it a point to notice what people wear. It’s part of my role in helping women to elevate their visual image and further their business objectives. Here are five ways you can look impeccable at your next business mixer.
1) Wear a color other than, or in addition to, black, gray, and white. Why? To stand out. At the next business event that you attend, observe how many people wear these colors. Almost everyone.
If you plan to meet someone at the event, it is easier for a person who doesn’t know you to identify you by the distinctive color you’re wearing. Additionally, the likelihood of someone remembering you increases when you look unique.
Use a color like red, cobalt, fuchsia, orange, teal, or turquoise to stand out from the crowd. For entrepreneurs, focusing on color can be especially impactful when you wear colors that complement your brand.
2) Purchase and wear your own name tag. How many times have you arrived at an event and been given a not so sticky tag with sloppy handwriting (maybe even your own) that doesn’t stick to your clothing? It’s happened to me too many time to count. And, it’s completely avoidable. A magnetic badge, with your name and logo, creates a professional appearance. These also make wonderful gifts for clients!
3) You may need to stand for most of, if not the entire event. Wear shoes that make this possible. I’m not suggesting that you wear Crocs. But, do wear professional shoes in top condition. You want to convey that you’re a competent, polished, and intelligent person with whom people would want to do business; and to whom they can refer friends and clients.
4) While you may choose to wear clothes or accessories in your personal life that strongly indicate your personal beliefs, religious affiliation, or send strong style preferences like bohemian attire, refrain from doing this at business functions.
Significant research on bias as it pertains to appearance, has been conducted. There is substantial evidence that verifies everybody judges appearance. Even people who claim that they do not judge the appearance of other people, do in fact pass judgement on clothing, hairstyles, etc.
Further, men have been shown to judge other men and women more harshly than women judge other people. In short, I wear more color and jewelry if I attend a female only networking function than if I attend a meeting with men. My intent is to avoid distractions that could lead to the impression that I am not serious about my career.
5) When in doubt, dress more formally than less formally. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Society today is typically very casual. You can’t go wrong by wearing attire that indicates you care about your appearance. Select a suit, or other clothing, that is business appropriate and shows you’re serious about your image. While jeans and business casual clothes may be fine, it makes sense to over dress and minimize the risk of being too casual.
Let me know how your next networking event goes!