“Well, this is a bit more formal than I had expected it to be.”
The man next to me – dressed in jeans and jacket – said last week, as we were observing the group of people that we were part of. We had both just walked in to a lunch networking event, and were surrounded by – mostly – (older) men in suit and tie. I was not surprised: I knew the organization, the event was hosted in the board room of an international bank and I had dressed accordingly – adding a little of my own style to business formality.
Two days later, another networking event for local entrepreneurs offered the opposite. The only man in suit and tie apologized for how he was dressed: “I have to go to a funeral after this.”
Shakespeare already knew it, when Polonius in Hamlet spoke:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man
And this still holds true today: clothes make the man/woman. What you wear has a huge influence on how others see you – whether you like it or not.
This year has started off spending time ‘activating’ my network: meeting people for coffee, discussing ideas and potential collaborations, but also attending a lot of networking events. January and February with their abundance of new year events, followed by Chinese new year events starting this week, are perfect months for this.
But this also comes with a regular question: What do I wear? What image do I want to portray?
But that last question doesn’t only come up when deciding on my outfit for the day: it is still part-and-parcel of the learning curve of being an entrepreneur that I am on. How do I present my proposals best to business partners? In what way can I best share my expertise and ideas – for example, in what blogging style?
The answer to that question is visible in, for example, my business cards, my writing style and my Twitter activity. The business direction I am heading towards, the style I chose to do things in, the choices I make: they are becoming more consistent which is great to realize after two years of establishing my business.
And yet, I can’t help wondering: will that feeling of having to deliberate over that day’s ‘outfit’ every time I go out at some point stop?