Everyone needs to network, including VAs and sometimes we have to put on actual clothes and go out in the world to do it. #shudder
If you’ve never done this before, here’s some things probably not to do.
So what to wear? It is never an easy call this one. You need to feel comfortable but mostly arriving in PJs is considered a bit off. The key thing is to have somewhere for your business cards if it's a stand and mingle event. The misery of trying to juggle wine, canapés, cards and a conversation is intense. You need a pocket. I now have a networking dress style with pockets. This is not say that whipping a card out from my bra to give someone wasn't a conversation starter, just that it started to get a bit spiky in there once I collected a few (right tit mine, left tit theirs, never let it be said I don’t have a system in place, I am a VA!)!
On the topic of boobs, a wise woman told me that us girls should always wear name badges on our right shoulder. Apparently, this will make it easier for men to shake our hands and read our names without getting an eyeful of cleavage. My badges tend only to last 5 seconds and then be buried under hair but please do try it and let me know if it works. And whether it works for all cup sizes. My rack wouldn’t cause a pause for even a sex starved long-term inmate so I am not much help experimentally in this area.
If you can't wear something with pockets and you (quite correctly) think the card in bra thing is a bad idea, next look at your bag. Are you one of these amazing women who can get by with a bag that is smaller than a smart car? You are. Wow. I salute you. Smaller than an A4 bit of paper and not filled with bricks? Good. Chose a bag with a pocket on the outside. Simples. If you have to lug your worldly goods with you then a bag within a bag so you can abandon most weight at the edge of the room and just keep on you a teeny bag with cards in. Ideally not a clutch bag or again you have the whole juggling thing and it's hard enough talking to strangers without realising you don't have a spare hand to shake or spit an olive pip into.
The other really foolish thing I've worn to an event like this is heels. I will give you the thought process:
“It's not that far from the tube, I can't be bothered to lug a big enough bag to carry my heels. They aren't that high. I'll just wing it.”
The number of idiotic things in those phrases that came back to haunt me as I entered the networking sanctum and met a smiling nervous looking chap ….
“Hello. My name is Gerald and I run an IT business. What is it you do?”
“Me? I bleed for a living. Look at my feet. Is this building really near Bank Tube? IS IT? In whose mind Gerald? And in that mind was there any thought of signage? No. No there wasn't Gerald. But that's OK because I only want to bleed. I want to walk 6000 fecking miles in shoes that clearly ARE too high for such a distance and BLEED. And then I want to limp to the toilets 3 floors up and wash my bleeding stumps before limping back down to a room with no bastard chairs where I am expected to stand on my stumps for the next 3 hours and be nice to people I will never meet again whilst eking out one pitifully small inclusive cocktail with a microbe of gin in it or forking out £12 for a minuscule glass of something actually drinkable. I bet you're glad you're in IT aren't you Gerald? I bet you're glad you're a man and never have to wear shoes that make you want to hack your own toes off with a canapé fork. Am I right Gerald. Am I?”
This is basically all you need to know about me, footwear and networking. Or going anywhere ever. It might just be me, I know shoes and me have issues but if in doubt, know that really you'd better be in slippers or you will end up in agony. Agony is not good for being a smooth, warm friendly person. Which it what I believe I'm generally aiming for. Not bleeding, screechy, tearful harridan. It's a personal thing.
(know a PA that is thinking of becoming a PA? Or a VA that needs a laugh? do share www.facebook.com/VirtuallyPainlessVA/)