Steps to Networking – Step 52: Your appearance

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 12th, 2010

STEP 52: Your appearance

People judge you by your appearance even if they don’t know or won’t admit to it, their reactions are deeply ingrained. Like it or not, many decisions are influenced by your appearance, what you wear, how you look and how you present yourself, so do yourself a favor and always try to look your best.

Dress appropriately. Wear clothing that will not offend the people you hope to meet. If you meet with a banker who wears a suit, you don’t also have to wear a suit, but look neat, clean and well groomed if you want to get that loan. If a company has “casual Friday, your business suit will be inappropriate. When you have to appear in court, don’t wear shorts or your old, stained car-washing outfit. As Jill says, “If you want to wear shorts, go to the beach.”

• If you plan to play tennis, wear whites
• If you want to weld, wear protective goggles
• If you hope to do business, dress for business

Dress appropriately for the occasion. Whites for tennis honor tradition, welding goggles provide safety and business clothing shows respect. When your appearance is inappropriate, it’s often be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. It also can be read as insensitivity or simply that you don’t care enough to make an effort to be neat, clean and properly dressed

People avoid those who offend their values. So be smart, give them what makes them comfortable and what will put them at ease. If you do, you will be more likely to get what you want.

According to an old adage, it’s better to overdress than underdress. Although that rule may no longer hold with many of today’s youth-oriented companies, it’s still generally true. When in doubt, dress up, rather than down. It never hurts to look your best, but it certainly could hurt to look less than your best.

Before you attend networking events, plan what you’re going to wear. Examine it to be sure that it’s clean, well pressed and in good condition. When you select your networking attire, it’s more important not to offend, than it is to impress.

At networking most events, you’ll find yourself physically close to others so be sure that you don’t offend. Get a good haircut, be clean, well groomed and brush your teeth. Avoid drinking coffee, it leaves a stale, unpleasant and long-lasting odor. Talking tends to dry your mouth so drink lots of water. Don’t be afraid to tote a small bottle of water, it’s totally acceptable at most networking events.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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