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WSJ Article Encourages Exotic Clothes for Networking

TempTime to go shopping. A Wall Street Journal article profiles Pradeep Aradhya, a digital marketing executive and investor, about his approach to networking. He says that networking didn't come easy to him, but he now attends events for six to eight hours a week and finds ways to stand out.

Aradhya follows a model he learned to "entertain, enlighten or enrich" others. He also changed his wardrobe from traditional suits to "crushed silk or woven with metallic thread, and wears exotic-looking designer shoes." According to Aradhya, he doesn't always have to start conversations; often, people will comment on his unusual clothing. Another strategy is saying something shocking, such as introducing himself as the king of India.

An article in Career Ladders offers advice for networking attire. The recommendations sound prescriptive—based on the event, for example, a barbecue or a cocktail party. For women going to a cocktail party, for example, the article suggests the following:

Choose a cocktail dress that is flattering and exposes a tasteful amount of skin. No plunging necklines or bandage dresses, please. Look for a hem that grazes the knee — any longer, and you will look dated; any shorter, and you will look like you belong in a club. Dresses made in chiffon or silk lay nicer than satin, which tends to rumple in all the wrong places. A silhouette that flatters almost any women’s body is sleeveless, with a scoop neck, fitted waist and slightly fuller skirt. Avoid fussy prints and stick to colors that translate well at night: black, gray, shades of red and navy. Wear open-toed heels and your favorite ear or neck sparklers for a finishing touch.

Compared to Aradhya's strategy, this is certainly a conservative approach.

Discussion:

  • How do you balance presenting your "best self" and being authentic? Can you think of times when you felt inauthentic during a networking or another type of event? What were the circumstances, and what did you learn?
  • How do you know what risks to take during networking? What's enough to distinguish you, and what's too much?
  • How important do you think attire is during networking events? How difficult is it to overlook someone who isn't dressed for the part but may be a great business partner or hire?