Dress and Act the Part

This is the fourth in a series of 10 tips about networking based on a phone call I received.

You can read the three tips and a little bit about the conversation that prompted this series on prior blog posts:

Tip #1 Participate Fully In the Event

Tip #2 Set Realistic Networking Expectations

Tip #3: To Feel Comfortable – Serve Others

The point of going to a networking event is to meet new people and reconnect with those you already know in order to build the relationships that makes business and referrals possible.  You want to give yourself every advantage and build your brand with every tool you’ve got.  One of your most essential tools is yourself.

Tip #4:  Dress and Act the Part

Most people that attend networking events already know that that they need to be clean and well-groomed but what is often missing is a “look” that is congruent with their firm’s image.  It would not make sense for a dog-trainer to come to a networking event wearing a suit, unless the dress for that particular event was formal.  It looks very odd when someone goes to business event dressed like they are going to the club for cocktails.   Finally, if you are a professional, and the event is “business attire” you should wear something that looks “business like”, not something that you would normally wear to hang around the house on the weekends.

I live in Florida, and here, business dress is rather casual and that’s fine.  But I’m always impressed by those individuals that look put together and appropriate to what they do for a living.  It’s not about being the “best dressed” but being appropriately dressed so that you look like someone that does what you say you do for a living.  You want to give yourself every advantage to being remembered for what you do.

But there’s more to promoting your image than your dress.  In addition to looking like a business person you need to act like someone in business at a business event.  Most people won’t do grossly inappropriate things but they will forget that they are supposed to be attending with an agenda.  You are there in a business capacity for a limited period of time.  You want to be social, of course, but remember you have goals to meet and going to an event for the sake of being seen is not good enough.  Instead, you want to purposely build and cement your relationships.

Before you go, write down a few goals such as (1) you want to connect with one person in a complimentary profession or (2) you want to see “so and so” to give them a smile and a handshake and ask them about their children, wife and aunt or (3) you want to locate one new person to ask to lunch the following week.

Networking events are enjoyable and social but to really see the benefits you have to go in with the right frame of mind to make your money and time investment truly pay off.

Take small steps.  Most people over-estimate what they can accomplish in the short-term through networking but also under-estimate what they can accomplish with consistent and measured actions over the long-term

Stay tuned for tip #5 – Have fun.


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