by Latrice Cole
We all know it’s necessary for growth professionally or personally, but let’s be honest, it can be dreadful, intimidating, and downright awkward. What do you wear? Do you suck it up and wear the four-inch heels? How do you sell yourself? Do you humble-brag about your degree, or do you grit your teeth and smile until the very end? The most awkward part of networking is striking up the initial conversation with a complete stranger. But what if you didn’t have to? With just a dash of fashion-savvy, you can skip the stress-inducing walk-up and the whole boring introduction speech with this simple trick I teach all my clients: Wear an ice-breaking accessory that’s a stellar conversation starter. Below is a list of accessories that will get people approaching you now – and long after the event.
1. Scarves –Try wearing a unique vintage scarf or a scarf that you bought while on vacation with a great story behind it. This will allow you to share the story while taking the pressure off you. There are several ways to wear your scarf. Close to your face is best (around your neck), but if you’re not comfortable with that tie it on your handbag, but remember the key is for people to notice it. So, if you are going to tie it to your bag, make sure you can showcase it.
2. Pop of color with your shoe or handbag – Wearing a classic or neutral outfit to a networking event is a great way to look polished and professional (think Little Black Dresses, pantsuit/pants, and blouse combo). However, show a little personality by adding a great pair of shoes or bag in a print or color that pops (like burnt orange or red). You will surely gain compliments that can ease into a conversation.
3. Jewelry – One of my favorite ways to top off an outfit. Try wearing a stand out heirloom, like a ring or brooch or handmade earrings that boosts your confidence. Last October, I attended a fashion networking event, and I wore handmade earrings. They were a hit! People started conversations with me based on my earrings. It broke the ice, allowed me to engage with others, and exchange contact information.
4. Eyeglasses – Those who wear them use it out of necessity, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Use your necessity as an advantage by stepping up your eyewear game with an interesting shape, color, bedazzle, or print, according to your personality. I wear glasses and depending on the type of event, I may switch my frames to make a statement. Glasses draw attention to your face making it easy for people to make eye contact with you.
If you don’t wear glasses you can always flip the script and admire someone else’s to get the conversation going.