I attend a lot of networking events annually and have come up with a routine that makes the art of networking a breeze. I’ve learned that when attending a networking event, I should feel confident enough to stand for an extended period of time and to speak to everyone in the room. A polished look gives me confidence. How I show up to and interact at events affects my personal brand so it’s important for me to be consistent. Here are the 3 ways I ensure that my personal brand stays consistent when networking:
1) Plan the Approach
I learn as much as I can about the event and the speakers as well as figure out what I want to gain from attending the event. If available I find out if anyone I know is going and peruse LinkedIn to figure out how I’m connected (or rather how my bosses are) with other attendees.
2) Practice the Pitch
I tailor my 30-second elevator pitch to the person or people I wish to speak with. Before I leave for the day, and if I remember, I place a few business cards in my clutch to hand out during my pitch or I plan to collect them instead. It is not necessary to exchange cards with everyone.
3) Prepare the Look
When it comes to networking, a polished look is a must, not a choice. Having a polished look does include being dressed to the nines but is less about how much you spend to achieve the look. I love international brands and will always select high quality items for the ‘timeless section’ of my closet and if possible, classics. Your networking wardrobe should be appropriate for every season and venue and thus suitable for your budget. If I attend a mixer after work, then I follow the 8 Attributes to a Polished Look and head to the event without a wardrobe change. Networking at sports arenas and barbecues requires a fashion flexible yet polished look. When attending a conference or seminar, without going to work first, these are my go-to wardrobe pieces:
Patent Leather Shoes
Patent leather shoes aren’t just for holidays-I wear them to every networking event. Heel height depends on the venue floor and the length of time I will be standing, but I typically wear a pair of Ferragamo shoes. Dark pantyhose are always worn with closed-toe shoes.
Karla Tip: Put clear foot petals on the bottom of your shoes so you won’t slip!
A Sheath Dress
A sheath dress hugs the body and is a bit longer than a cocktail dress-falling close to the knees. I own a variety of sheath little black dresses and most of my LBDs have pockets to store and collect business cards. My go-to LBD retailer is Brooks Brothers. Their patterns and fabrics are forgiving to name tags-which are always worn on your right.
Karla Tip: A-lines are best for short or curvy silhouettes while fishtail and pencil hems are best for those with long legs or a slim silhouette.
I have a minimalist approach to accessories. I always wear studs and I will only wear a necklace if the dress neckline is appropriate for one. A timepiece is required at events so that I won’t look at my mobile device every few minutes. I bought a two-toned Rolex because I can wear it with silver or gold studs. I also carry one of my small Chanel Classic Flap Bags to store travel size make-up and of course Coco Mademoiselle perfume. Elegance is timeless.
Karla Tip: Wear your watch on the left wrist and carry your glass or plate in your left hand to have your right hand free for handshakes.
I keep it pretty chic when a coat is required and always opt for the classic Burberry Trench. My short trench is great for a cocktail dress or more casual event.
Karla Tip: To complete the look add the check cashmere scarf and umbrella.
Although we may all arrive to an event fashion forward, we should all have our own unique style. American model and actress Lauren Hutton explains that “Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year. Style is what you pick out of that fashion…it’s what you make of it once you’ve learned what to accept and ignore based on what looks good on you”. Thus, there is always a clear winner in the Us Weekly “who wore it best” contest. Your network is your net worth; Transcend in every environment with timeless fashion.
Until next time…