Not getting the most networking bang for your buck? Having trouble getting noticed? Not making the connections you really want?
If you’re not attracting the right people, you may need to reassess the message you’re sending to those around you. When we’re networking we’re not only marketing our businesses, but ourselves as well. Your company image is echoed through your personal style. During a first encounter with a new acquaintance, you have less then 10 seconds to establish a positive first impression, and 55% of that first impression is based on how you look and how you behave. Therefore, your personal image and conduct need to be outstanding.
So how do you become outstanding? First, define your corporate identity and message. Think about what your business is about and what it stands for. For instance, quality work/products, dependability, fair pricing. Now think of three adjectives by which you, as the owner want to be remembered. Confident, sincere, capable, etc.? What is the message you want to instill in others? “I can help your business grow.” “I can provide you with customized solutions.” “I can help make your workforce happier and healthier.”
Next, look at yourself in a mirror. Are your clothes sending the message you want to send? Someone who is looking for an expert to help grow his/her business will be attracted to a look of experience and stability. So stay away from the business casual look. Try wearing a suit in a medium to darker neutral tone to promote experience and stability. Show you are approachable, friendly and open for business through the colour of your blouse/shirt and simple but well-chosen accessories.
If your message is that you ‘provide customized solutions’, create a look that shows you are innovative and flexible. Scrap the full suit. Try coordinated tailored separates (jacket, skirt or pants). Use colour and accessories to show you are creative and professional. Keep your bottoms neutral to show stability, then add some creativity with a bold coloured or textured jacket or, maybe, pop some interest with a colourful striped or patterned shirt/blouse. Remember to use only one creative focal piece in your clothing – too many is overkill.
When your business is all about making a workforce happier and healthier’, you will be expected to be up to date on health and wellness. A pin-stripe navy blue suit and starched white shirt isn’t going to work. You want to appear as stress-free as your client’s workplace will be when you are working with them. Go for a more relaxed look. Try separates in warmer, earthier tones. Choose natural fabrics and accessories. For example, tweed pants with a cream cotton top will reflect a calm, friendly yet professional approach. Ladies, accessorize with wood, beads and stones.
The key is to stay true to who you are and what your business stands for, while always remaining professional. Successful people want to do business with other successful people. So take pride in who you are and what you offer. Let that pride shine through the way you dress and how you communicate with others. When you send the right message, the right answers will come and the right people will appear.