Growing up, I was a pretty shy kid. I was never the child that excitedly raised their hand to answer a question, or the first to spark up a conversation. I preferred listening to everyone else talk and taking in my surroundings. I always thought being an introvert was a bad thing. I envied my peers that were so confident in themselves and could speak in front of the class like it was nothing. I still get pangs of social anxiety from time to time, and still have a fear of public speaking, but after all these years I’ve finally realized that being the quiet girl wasn’t such a bad thing at all. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with fashion.
The outfits I chose allowed me to express myself without using words. I think that’s why I’ve always favored the statement pieces, because they literally speak for themselves. As I got older, I eventually forced myself out of my shell, and continued to experiment with my style. I was given Best Dressed as my senior superlative…at a private catholic high school. Imagine how many accessories I had to wear with my uniform to claim that title! But by that point in my life, fashion was all that I needed to help define who I was and who I wanted to be.
Today, I still like to let my clothes do most of the talking, hence this black swan skirt situation. I recently wore this to a Boston Blogger happy hour and every new face I chatted with started off the conversation talking about the skirt. Now, I’m not trying to humble brag that I got a bunch of compliments on my outfit, but rather make the point that clothing really can convey who or what you want to be. My sixth grade self always wanted to be the popular girl. I’ll never, ever be the popular girl, but wearing this skirt sure gave me the confidence to talk to a lot of great bloggers that I never met before.
I know it sounds weird that I need the help of inanimate objects to help me talk to other humans, but I think some other shy folks out there might agree with me. If you take anything away from this post, it should be that wearing an outfit that you feel fantastic in is an excellent networking tool for not only scoring that great first impression, but also to be used as a tactic for your own advantage. If you’re riding solo at an event (and panicking like I sometimes do), approach the woman with the gorgeous statement earrings and ask her where she got them, or compliment the man wearing the vintage watch and ask if it’s a family heirloom. Just by taking that small initiative to approach someone with a friendly compliment will open the floodgates for conversation and connections. Who knows, that person may not know anyone else at the event either and will be relieved that you approached them. Of course, there will always be a few people that just want no business talking to you and that’s OK. As Jay-Z would say, “On to the next one!”
Do you have any tips for networking, working a crowd, or dressing for a networking event?