We’re excited to welcome back to the blog Desiree Moore with Part 2 of ”How to Dress Your Best for Catapult 2014.” Desiree is from House of Marbury, a fashion and style blog for women lawyers. Welcome back, Desiree!
In the days leading up to a big conference, like Catapult 2014, in addition to thinking about your wardrobe, you should be thinking about your networking strategy. Whether you are a long-time legal professional, or a law student hoping to connect with potential employers, getting to know as many people as possible is always a good idea.
You never know who you are going to meet who is going to be able to help you in your career down the line, so it’s important to go in with an open mind and a willingness to meet and engage your colleagues throughout the day. A successful conference is one where you leave with a handful of business cards and some real connections – that is, people you can contact after the conference and invite to coffee or lunch.
And that brings us to our fashion topic of the day – what to wear to those post-conference networking opportunities that will inevitably result from having attended the conference. Of course, your attire choice will inevitably depend on the type of meeting or networking opportunity that comes up, but we’ll try to cover the basic scenarios.
1. The Formal “Pick Your Brain” Meeting
In the event of a formal meeting, whether with a potential employer or a mentor in the community who you have solicited to assist you in some way in your career, err on the side of caution and wear a suit or business casual attire (this can sometimes depend on the setting – if they’ve asked you to meet in their office, a suit is appropriate; if you are meeting outside of the office for a coffee or a quick bite, business casual is likely appropriate). Often in these settings, a casual get together can turn into an impropmtu tour of the person’s office, or an introduction to several of his or her colleagues. You’ll want to look your best and feel your best, so as to impress anyone you may meet.
2. The Casual “How Can We Help Each Other” Meeting
Oftentimes, connecting with someone post-conference is a mutually beneficial endeavor, where the objective is to explore ways you might be able to work together. If you have scheduled post-conference meetings of this sort, dress nicely and professionally (in the legal profession, optimizing the impression you make through your attire and demeanor is always a good idea) but opt for something comfortable that shows who you are. A great winter dress or slacks and a blazer for men is a reliable go-to when you are trying to make a good impression while also being yourself.
3. The “It Was Great to Make a New Friend” Meeting
The best part about an in-depth, day long conference like Catapult is that you’re bound to make friends, many who may be friends for life. These are going to be some of the most important connections you can make, not only because of the potential to help one another down the line, but because, in a profession like ours, the more people you have supporting you, the better. For a meeting that centers on developing a friendship, take it out of the business context entirely, including with your wardrobe. Jeans and a t-shirt, or whatever you might wear when you’re hanging out with friends, is perfectly appropriate.
The most important take away here is to be proactive about meeting all sorts of people when you attend a legal conference, from potential employers and colleagues, to life-long friends. And with each connection, be sure to pursue follow up meetings to keep the connections flourishing, and consider the narrative you want to tell through your attire – your first opportunity to make a great impression.
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