A conference is an opportunity for us to show up, learn, and be seen. This is a grand opportunity to network with like-minded women in your field of business. So, here’s a few tips to help you make the most of this amazing opportunity to engage and connect. And these tips will help you prepare for ANY conferences you may attend.
First of all, remember this is a super-charged, business-professional networking event. You’ll meet many for the first time, so you’ll be making that critical first impression. The impression that will remain in their minds, likely forever. So prepare for it. You are coming together to learn and discuss business, so dress like your role in business. Express the title on your business card. And if you’re looking for leadership opportunities, dress like the leader you want to be.
“The soul never thinks without an image.” Aristotle
So plan your image:
A dress-with-a-jacket or slacks-top-and-jacket are the most professional looking and most pull-together looks. Black is the most easily-found color, but try to find some additional color to add to this black palette so it doesn’t suck all the color from your face. And keep in mind photos and video will be taken, so add that color to stand out from the crowd. I like to find a jacket with good pockets so I can have business cards ready so I don’t have to distract with the dig-through-the-purse exercise while I’m talking.
Try the outfit on now to make certain it fits well. Often jacket sleeves are too long and need to be taken to the tailor or seamstress to be shortened. Yes, this is important so you don't look clueless, but like a women who takes care of all the details. Jacket sleeves should hang just below the knob on your wrist, not halfway down your hand. I see this TOO OFTEN – and it’s the height of “I don’t know and I don’t care”. All men’s suits are altered to get this right – so we need to do this too. We’re polished professionals!
How about the hem in your pants? Hem pants to the depth of your shoe heel height. If you’re walking on the hem, wear taller shoes OR shorten it. And hems falling out are scream “she just doesn’t care” – so tacky. Take the time to check on these. And if you need help with this, I offer a really inexpensive package to give you some closet guidance. Check out my packages on my ‘shop’ page. It's important to invest in yourself too.
And if you’re on a panel and need to sit on a stool or chair while wearing a dress, make sure when you sit down the dress provides enough coverage to be modest. If you don’t you’ll be embarrassed and uncomfortable and so will the audience. Your message won’t be heard and that’s not the impression you want to leave. A pashmina over your knees is an alternative, although not a great one. Pants may be a better choice.
Shoes – I always travel with two pair. Flats to wear from the car across the parking garage. Then I have pumps to change into before I make my first appearance. On a day of a conference where you have to stand all day, you might even want to bring out your closed-toe, wedge-heels. Usually these have a rounder toe to accommodate swelling feet and a slightly lower heel because you may be standing more. Your feet will probably be in photos, so make sure your shoes look as good as the rest of your outfit. Any height heel offers a better image than flats.
Does your purse look professional? Don’t let a beat-up purse take away from your image. I saw some great inexpensive tote bags at Target yesterday. A tote bag is great for a conference because it doubles as a purse and you can stash extra stuff you might need in it (like a phone charger and back-up make-up). Look for one with a zipper across the top so you can keep everything in its place and reduce opportunity for theft. I even tie a piece of coloed ribbon on the handle so I can easily identify it as mine.
Make-up – Yes, wear some. Between the lighting in the conference center and the flash from a photographer, your face can look washed out if you don’t make the effort to do some foundation, undereye cover, blush, mascara, lip color. And a matte powder is best for these events because you’ll be photographed and matte is a better look than the fashion penchant for “glowy.”
Nail polish is not mandatory, but if you have polish ON, be certain it’s not chipped. Another bad image you don’t want to leave. It's easier to fix it than apologize for it all day. Wastes perfectly good networking minutes.
Plan for networking:
Got up-to-date business cards? How many are left in the box? Order today. Have you ever gotten the dog-eared card with the scratched-out and hand-written e-mail address on it? How professional does that look? Is this person a professional capable of planning ahead? It’s easy to get biz cards, so order up now. And if you’re in search of a job, add a good photo on the card so they can remember you. If your LinkedIn photo is good, use it so they’ll remember you when you send them a Connection request!
And since you’re networking, is your LinkedIn profile up-to-date? And even more importantly, is the photo on your LinkedIn profile a professional one? If you make a good connection, YOU need to send them a connection request with a personal note in it to remind them where you met. Then, when they look at your profile it needs to reflect and reinforce the image you left when you met them at the event. Simple, right?
Take the time to get these details right so they can concentrate your your message. If you need help, call me. I'm here for you! 832.707.9339