By Lindsay Western, MBA Candidate, Loyola Marymount University, Guest Blogger
Spring is just around the corner which means its networking time! Lindsay Western, LMU MBA candidate, tackles the what-to-wear conundrum using movies as an inspiration!
Recently during an annual mock networking event, a student discussed selecting the correct clothing for the event. The student was so unsure of the appropriate clothing, that she packed additional outfits in case she had to dress up or dress down her attire. Image how large her bag was! It reminded me of a scene from a movie around the time that student was born. In the fun loving comedy Clueless from the 90s, the main character stressed for hours to find the perfect outfit. Cher and this student are not alone. There are other stories of individuals keeping spare clothes in their trunk just in case, or wearing layers of clothes. How does one prevent the stress of finding the right wardrobe for a networking event? While there is no one answer, here are a few lessons from a few movies to help prepare you for your next networking event.
Do Your Homework
If you are not familiar with the movie Lets Be Cops, here is a brief synopsis. The two main characters go to an alumni event in full costume, only to find out that the event was a business casual setting. There is much more to the plot, but this point is key. Many networking events happen annually, monthly, and sometimes weekly. In the new age of social media, you can search through Instagram or Facebook to see photos from other events. If the event doesn’t have a page, follow the host, see how they dress, notice if they make mention of what they are wearing. If company based, search for the company culture. Remember, Google can complete a search in under a second, this is quick and easy.
Define Your Style
Often individuals are intimidated by the generic look of professionalism. Still, every look is not for everyone. Sometimes you may not have the means to exactly match a style. Elle Woods from Legally Blonde is a great example of this. At first, she felt that she had to dress like everyone else. This left her feeling uncomfortable and not very confidant. The other picture shows her with her style, but still appropriate for most networking events. There are times when the stereotypical look is uncomfortable to you. Nothing is more unprofessional than you adjusting your clothes and fidgeting every few minutes. Take time to assess your wardrobe for what you have and decide what you need to purchase to better design your unique style. Two great sources for determining how to make your look comfortable and professional are the budget fashionista and Pinterest. Whether you are man or woman, it never hurts to find a little help.
When in Doubt, Overdress
Oscar Wilde once said, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” Outside of wearing a ball gown, networking events will seldom discourage you from desking up. In the movie the Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep never dressed down. Yet, never looked out of place. In the story of the female student at the networking event, her biggest concern was that she was too dressed up for the event. In the case of networking, dressing your most professional can only help all the first impressions you will make. An apology for being too formal will be forgiven well before an apology of being too comfortable. Shine, be confidant, and do not shy away from standing out.
Many people become really stressed when thinking about networking. You have to know the right things to say, the right about of time to talk to a sing person, where to wear your name tag. What you are wearing should be the least of your concerns. Like above, sometimes we don’t get it right. That is okay sometimes too. Just research and do your best to know what you need to approach your next networking event with ease.
Click here for more networking success tips.