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Preparing to attend networking events can be intimidating, worrying about how to make a positive and lasting impression, without it feeling forced or coming across as fake.
But, there’s a fun aspect of networking that reminds us of our purpose: deciding on your outfit! When we dress to impress at networking events, we not only show others our personality, but we also convey what we stand for/represent and how we manifest our brand. In other words: What do you want others to know about you based on how you present yourself?
As you create your outfit for your next networking event, ask yourself these questions that will help you show up and show out!
BTW, the details for this look are in this post.
The type of event is key because it sets the overall tone for how to start building your look. Preparing for a happy hour to socialize is different than prepping for a formal sit-down dinner, which is different than speed networking.
Based on the type of event, you can decide if your outfit needs to be more casual, formal, dressy, or somewhere in the middle. Also, find out if there’s a dress code or theme so you know the protocols.
Next, consider the season, climate, and time of day. These factors determine the types of fabrics you want to wear, the silhouette (for example, flowy is better in summer when you don’t want your clothes sticking to you!) and how covered or not you will be. Night time events in winter require a much different dress than summer day time events.
Then, look at the venue of the event. Where is it located, what kind of establishment is it and what’s the overall vibe it gives off? Is it dark with mood lighting (in which case, you may not want to wear black) or is it well lit and energetic? Is it indoors or outside?
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen open-toed shoes in the winter (with snow on the ground!) or heels at events held in the grass.
A little research goes a long way to show that you’ve thoughtfully prepared and are appropriate for the occasion.
See who might be planning to attend and get a mental Rolodex prepared. Why? Because you want to wear something relevant to the audience’s interests that grabs their attention and is memorable.
I regularly attend fashion, travel, and business events. Based on my experience, people within fashion dress more trendy, whereas business people can be conservative (suits, jackets, button-ups), and travel people tend to be more casual (jeans, tops, t-shirts). Regardless of the type of event, I always strive to be presentable and dress based on my personality and brand -but- I remain versatile and adjust my style for the audience.
Define 2-3 things you want to take away from the event. These goals create context for your outfit. If you are interested in work opportunities, potentially you’re a bit more ‘buttoned up.’ On the other hand, if you’re in a completely casual setting, maybe your goal is to make you new friends/acquaintances; therefore, your outfit serves as a conversation starter so you wear something that stands out among the crowd. A few thought-starters:
What information do you want to learn?
What type of people do you want to meet/connect with?
What do you want people to remember about you?
Do you want to sell a service or product?
Are you looking for new friends/acquaintances?
Regardless of whether you are a business or an individual, you represent a brand. That brand should have defined values and beliefs and your image should consistently reflect that you have a company, then your brand values and image are what your brand stands for.
However, even individuals have a brand and that brand defines one’s values, along with how we want people to treat us.
To look good, you have to feel good. That’s why I create wellness content on the site. Here’s how to test drive your outfit in advance:
Based on the info you’ve gathered about the event, build and edit your look to ensure you will comfortable. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of something, wanting to focus on your goals but feel awkward and/or downright uncomfortable. Confidence is key and comes from within.
Also, always try on your outfit with accessories, shoes, and makeup in advance. Check yourself out in the mirror and take photos. You want to see yourself how others will see you. Don’t be that person who is the only person who doesn’t realize their outfit is see-through! Also, walk around, sit down, bend over to test for proper fit!
I always make sure that I will be comfy in my looks before stepping out of the house. For example, if I’m going to be walking or on my feet for a while, then I may wear a lower heel or a flat. I ALWAYS wear shoe insoles for extra cushioning (they’re chiropractor-approved). The two versions I use are below, one for closed toed shoes and another for open toed. My other must-have fashion accessories are listed on my Amazon store.