As many entrepreneurs know, a first impression can hold a lot of weight when networking or meeting with customers. Most people form a first impression at first glance. When you are doing business you’ll want your peers and customers to see you as someone who is serious, professional, and successful. This is especially true if you are a young entrepreneur just starting out.
Here’s a look at five situations you may find yourself in as you grow your small business and what to wear, when.
1. Networking Events
Networking events are a great way to meet like-minded peers when you’re just starting out in business. You never know where your next connection may lead. Whether you’re attending a VC meet and greet or a pitch event seeking investment, remember: no one wants to invest in someone who doesn’t appear serious and dedicated to their business. This is why it’s important to wear a professional outfit.
Not sure what to wear? Keep it simple. A classic example is a below the knee skirt with a button-up blouse. Shoes should be closed toe and coordinate with your outfit. Stick with blue, black or red for the skirt, blouse and shoe colors. You may have left the days of interviewing for a job behind you, but take a lesson from the interview playbook — think of a networking event as an informal interview. Dress to impress!
2. Lunch Meetings
Lunch meetings are a great way to iron out new deals, solidify new partnerships or introduce industry colleagues. A power lunch provides a relaxed way to discuss business in more of an informal setting. However, just because it’s a relaxed environment doesn’t mean you should show up in jeans and a t-shirt (unless you’re a “creative” or you reside in Silicon Valley, which is known for its casual dress code).
Instead, opt for a tailored trouser look with a blouse and subtle accessories. Depending on your relationship with the contact and purpose of the meeting, a blazer and tailored jean is also appropriate. In terms of shoes, a flat or 3-inch heel is perfect for the occasion.