What Not to Wear at Networking Events: Ladies Edition

If you are on the design side of the fashion industry or an entertainer, "going there" with your style is par for course. For the rest of us looking to network our way into some new business, being strategic about our visual presentation is critical. According to researchers from NYU, we make 11 major decisions about each another in the first seven seconds of meeting. Studies have also shown that non-verbal cues (how we look) can weigh heavier than verbal ones (what we say).

As a consumer and personal brand manager with a love for relationship development, I’ve enjoyed my share of networking affairs and business conferences. These events can be new business development battlegrounds, and I have seen ladies taken out of the game before they can even smile and extend their hand because of visual presentation faux pas. Here are five examples of fashion no-no's for networking:

Hooker heels

As a shoe addict, I, too, have been sky-high in six-inch fuchsia platforms -- on my own time. Save these shoes for Saturday’s hot date as they can: a) Send a sexy message that ladies who want to be taken seriously don’t need to be broadcasting b) Cause otherwise poised ladies to hobble after a long night of networking and c) Cause you to wipe out. Fashionista alternative? Take the heel down a bit and have fun with a pointy toe or styled wedge.

Car-stopping cleavage

Sure, you will get attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Some decision-makers will be more focused on dating than hiring you, and the others may be whispering behind your back, questioning your expertise and decision-making abilities. Fashionista alternative? No need to run to turtlenecks: Just button a few more buttons and make sure the fit is flattering without being x-rated.

Lily Munster eyes

Blue metallic lids with long fake lashes and red cherry-glossed lips can be hot at the club, but at business events can make you look dated, garish, or like you are hiding an unpleasant secret. Fashionista alternative? A fresh-faced look (think Jennifer Hudson or Aniston) with earth/muted tones, lighter make-up application and just a “pop” of color for some sizzle.

Over-sized/Ill-fitting suits

Suits that make you look shapeless (a.k.a. matronly) can kill your chances of making a great first impression. Decision-makers are looking for quick-witted, agile, problem solvers. Rockin’ the grandma chic says you are the complete opposite. Curvier body types fall victim to this most often -- and would do well to have off-the-rack suits tailored to perfection. Fashionista alternative? Dresses, or figure-flattering separates in materials like knit or jersey, are a great alternative.

Pungent scent of a woman

Strong fragrances can set off migraines, allergies or just generally repel - which is not the affect you want at a networking event. Fashionista alternative?Lightly scented lotion, or a spritz of natural scents, like lavender, lemon, or peppermint..

Stay tuned fellas -- it's your turn next!

Jetta Bates-Vasilatos is founder of Twist Communications and a life stylist with 10+ years of award-winning consumer engagement/strategic planning experience for luxury and global brands like BMW and Coca-Cola. She also serves as an on-air correspondent and writer with a focus on luxury and experiential tourism, lifestyle, sustainability, and personal finance (how to be chic yet savvy). Jetta has appeared on stations such as WCIU-TV, KBS-TV(Korea), ABC-7, CLTV and KBC-TV (Kenya), writes for national print publications such as Essence, Recommend, Ebony and HomeStyle Design and is the host of the Jettasetting segment on WVON radio.

Visit her website jettasetting.com, find realtime tips on her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter: @jettaset.

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