Summer Networking

 By: Michael D Taylor
One of the most popular question asked when it comes to outdoor business networking events in late August and early September is, "is it okay to wear shorts?" You may remember that a couple of years ago, President Obama wore shorts to a summer golf outing, and many people raised their eyebrows. But the President's normally impeccable manners did not lead him astray. It is okay to wear shorts to an outdoor networking event, such as a round of golf or a barbecue. The key is to pick shorts with the correct length and cut. A neutral shade and fabric, such as khaki or olive green, is key. Denim is not a good idea here. Look for shorts that hit just about an inch above the knee, have a clean hemline, and don't cling to your legs. Avoid large cargo pockets in favor of a cleaner look. Pair shorts with a nice polo shirt, and make sure to tuck it in and wear a belt. Some athletic companies, make excellent dry-fit polo shirts. These are a great option when it is hot outside, because they look nice and professional while wicking moisture away from your body to help keep you cool and dry.• 

For slightly more formal networking events, such as light fare and drinks on the back patio of a restaurant, just lighten up your normal networking outfit. Lightweight khaki or linen pants along with a crisp cotton button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to your elbows looks professional and yet still a bit laid back and approachable. White is classic, but can look too glaring outside in the bright sunlight. For a nice twist go for light pink, blue or yellow. Or, another good option is a white shirt with a wide blue pinstripe. Don't skip the tie. To make it look appropriate for summer, look for one in a light or bright color. For example, a blue and white striped shirt looks nice with a yellow tie that contains a box pattern. You can do a polka dot or paisley pattern, even with a striped shirt, because this introduces a new pattern into the mix and breaks up the stripe. Before attending your event, you can also experiment with different types of tie knots. The Pratt and the Four-In-Hand are both knots that work well for networking events. Pair this look with boat shoes or leather loafers in a shade of brown or gray. Steer clear of black, as it often tends to look to heavy and formal.• 

Now, what if your networking event is at the opposite end of the spectrum, and is super casual, such as a beach volleyball game? Well, you do have to allow practicality to dictate your look here, so first of all, wear your bathing suit under your clothes. As a rule of thumb, it is always best to wear clean and well-pressed clothes to any business event. So if your bathing suit is looking somewhat shabby and faded by chlorine, it may be time to invest in a new one. Over it, wear a comfortable lightweight pair of linen or khaki shorts, and a cotton sport shirt. Stick to light colored fabrics, since you will be out in the sun. Flip flops are appropriate for the beach, but stick to leather ones rather than cheaper plastic ones. It is also best to leave any metal jewelry and accessories you have at home, as these tend to emit a strange scent when they get sweaty (it also guarantees that you keep them safe). Make sure to wear clothing that allows for freedom of movement, as you will have a lot more fun and be much more successful at networking if you are able to comfortably participate in the planned activities.
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