The Conversation Piece: How Your Outfit Can Help You Network
Today’s post is written by Kristina Moore, founder and editor of Corporate Fashionista, a fashion blog dedicated to the professional woman. She thrives on helping busy biz gals better communicate purpose through fashion.
In a way, you’re always networking, right?! As a professional, you understand it’s imperative to take charge of your career path, and building relationships is key to achieving your professional goals. It doesn’t even matter if you already have a job, you need to keep your feelers out there in the world, see what’s going on, and what opportunities are available in your office, industry, and marketplace at all times. This means you need to make the most out of every networking event.
First visual impressions or what you wear to these meet-and-greets can jumpstart, rekindle, and solidify important professional relationships. It’s true whether we like to admit it or not. Here’s what works. Just as you are with your business, be very strategic with your clothing and accessory choices. The way you present yourself is a business tool, just like any other and when done well can greatly enhance all of the powerful networking skills you are honing here by reading Classy Career Girl.
The Outfit Conversation Piece
The trick to using your outfit as a way to engage others is to always incorporate what I call a conversation piece. It’s an ice-breaker that invites friendly, respectful interaction. This does not mean it has to be directly commented on to be effective nor does it mean it needs to be bold or graphic or flashy in any way. Obviously, the degree of fashion flexibility depends on the industry you work in, but you can easily add subtle style choices that make a strong impact and get the results you want. Today, I want to focus on conservative attire with a twist.
Here are my top three ways to easily make your conversation piece an instant hit. Choose one:
Wear a Dress
It will stand out in a sea of suits. The Maggie London dress is a classic sheath dress and predominately black, so it meets the conservative criteria. The subtle twist is incorporating the color-blocking trend. It’s interesting, modern, and current. It implies you are, too. Add a black blazer if you need to tone it down further for your field.
Add a Statement Necklace
A statement necklace does not mean it has to be large or bright to make a statement. It needs to be eye-catching because it’s beautiful or fascinating. Sarah Chloe’s mini heartbeat necklace is a great example. It’s unique, story-filled design grabs attention and is an instant conversation piece. Earrings (unless your hair is in an updo), bracelets, handbags and, yes, even shoes can work, but won’t do the job of a conversation piece as quickly. A necklace is close to your face and easy to notice when introductions are made at crowded networking events.
Wear a Colorful, Solid-Colored Blouse
A flattering, lively color gets attention. A blouse is close to your face, so it’s easy for your peers to notice it. The color does not have to be shocking to be noticeable. A purple blouse is a great example. The vibrant color will appropriately stand out. A printed blouse can work, but it doesn’t have quite the same instant impact. The other best blouse option is one with an exciting yet suitable neckline. Again, the intriguing design detail is close to your face and very easy to attract or to add to a conversation.
Remember, the conversation piece you incorporate into your next networking outfit does not have to elicit comments to be successful! The spirit of its impact will not go unnoticed…let the connections begin!
Reader Question: How conscious are you about the message you are sending with what you wear to professional events?