Asking Your Boss For Help With Networking

How to Get Networking Help From Your Boss | CorporetteIf you’re new in the field, should you expect your boss to introduce you to her contacts and take you to networking events? How can you ask her to start helping you network? Reader S wonders…

I’m new in my career in a small office and my boss is well established in our field. She has wonderful contacts and is a member of many associations and groups. I had hoped my boss would take me under her wing a little and be a great mentor as I learn the ropes. Unfortunately, I have not be invited to join her at any of these events. Is it appropriate to ask to be introduced to her network and to accompany her to events? I don’t want her to feel threatened that I’m looking for better opportunities, but I think it’s important to get to know the industry players as well.

Great question, S!  We’ve talked about how to network when you’re junior, how to get networking help from an adjunct professor, how to network at a conference, and how to know which networking organizations to join, but we haven’t talked about this before. [Read more...]

Are Scarves Professional Enough?

Are Scarves Professional Enough? | CorporetteAre scarves professional enough for conferences? Are there some ways of wearing a scarf that are more professional than other ways?  How, in general, do you dress for a male-dominated conference?  Reader A, writing from Europe (and a very male-dominated profession), wonders:

Maybe this is a cultural issue, but I’d never, ever, wear a scarf to a conference. Ever. At the office, sure, if there’s no meetings. At a conference, however, there is no more surefire way to be treated like a hostess/secretary/admin than wearing a scarf. The women who actually have those jobs are all colour-coordinated, but that doesn’t help. All people see is scarf or no scarf.  I think it’s a real shame, as I like scarves and the femininity they bring to an outfit. Instead, I’ve settled for statement jackets, or a skirt or shoes that “pop”.

Is this because I’m in a (very) male dominated business, or is it a Europe/US thing?

We’ve talked about how to wear scarves, as well as how to pack and what to wear to conferences before, of course, but this is a new one — and a very interesting one, given that scarves would never strike me as something a) unprofessional in general, b) hostess/secretary/admin.  When I worked at a very male-dominated law firm, one of the female partners I worked closely with — who certainly commanded respect from everyone — was known for her collection of Hermes scarves that she would wear long and loose beneath her blazers, a bit like the “drape scarf with bomber jacket” look above from Wendy’s Lookbook. (If you haven’t seen it, her scarf-tying tutorial is pretty awesome; the screenshot above is from the “companion” video. Another great resource generally: Une Femme d’un Certain Âge.) [Read more...]

How to Network at a Conference

How to Network at a Conference | CorporetteHow do you network at a conference where you know no one? Reader A wonders…

I’ve been a lawyer for about one year, and I’m going to my first national conference in a couple of months. I’m the only person from my firm going, and I don’t anticipate knowing anyone there. Do you have any tips for networking, meeting people, and generally getting a lot out of a conference when one is attending completely alone?

Yowza — that can be difficult, and I’m curious to hear what the readers say.  (Pictured: Conference, originally uploaded to Flickr by zigazou76.) Here are a few of my own suggestions:

- Make a “wishlist” based on who you KNOW will be attending. If this is a really huge conference, you might only know the speakers who are attending or the organizers, but look over their LinkedIn or other online profiles and see if any of them will be your “dream” connection. [Read more...]

Resort Chic — for a Business Meeting in the Bahamas

what to wear to a business meeting in the BahamasReader L has a question about what to wear for a business meeting in the Bahamas…

Unlike many of your readers, I am not a lawyer but am an MBA grad working in Investor Relations. After a couple of years of trudging through the economy, the management team has decided to have our small strategic planning meeting in the Bahamas next month (yay!); however, I am at a loss when it comes to attire. The information provided says “resort chic”. I’m assuming that means clothing which does not consist of a printed hibiscus sprawling across ones chest. Can you give me some suggestions where I can go to find classy resort wear? Thanks a bunch. I’ll toast a fruity drink to you!

Well, I’ll do anything to have a fruity drink toasted to me. :) Honestly, though: why do companies keep doing these kinds of awkward retreats, without specific advice for women? The men who attend this meeting will show up in khaki pants and a button-front shirt and be A-OK; if they’re more formal some may have a linen blazer with them, whereas others may wear shorts with untucked button-front shirts (with the sleeves rolled up, of course). Either way you slice it, the margin of error will be fairly small for the men. Whereas for women — when one says “resort chic” my imagination runs from the casual hippie clothing like a maxi dress to the more high-fashion model look of someone 6′ tall wearing short-shorts, 4″ heels, and perhaps an expensive blouse, loaded up with jewelry and a sour expression. Or, of course, a great bikini… but none of those choices really seem ideal for your situation, because you don’t want to confuse vacation with a business meeting  (Pictured: Bahamas Gazebo, originally uploaded to Flickr by bryce_edwards.) [Read more...]

What Do You Pack for Conferences?

So many planes, originally uploaded to Flickr by lauren_pressleyOver the past few years, I’ve attended a few multi-day conferences in far-off locales, and I’ve realized: packing for this kind of conference is an art, not a science. I’m still learning what to bring, but I thought I’d start an open thread by sharing my must-bring items — readers, what do you bring? (Pictured: So many planes, originally uploaded to Flickr by lauren_pressley.)

1. A wrap. Conference planners may make the rooms 65-70 degrees, both to keep people awake as well as to make sure it doesn’t get too HOT. A wrap (preferably, a serious one — cashmere or wool) allows you to add or subtract layers easily, even if you’re already wearing a blazer or suit jacket. The other great thing about the wrap is that you can lay it across your lap if you need to, either to make yourself warmer or to compensate for a skirt that you’ve only just realized is too short if you’re sitting all day. [Read more...]

Emergency Reader Mail: What to Wear to a Conference?

what-to-wear-to-a-conferenceAh, the perennial question: what to wear to a conference?

I’m a 1L and I’m going to a one day “retreat” with several prominent speakers/panelists this coming Saturday at the (NYC) bar association – its from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm if that makes a difference. I’m mainly going because I am interested in the topic, and maybe a little networking since this is the area that I plan to practice in. I’ve never been to one of these events and have no idea how people dress for this – suit, dress, or business casual skirt/pants??? Should I wear (low-ish) heels or are flats ok? Please help!

In our (limited) experience, conference dress can vary pretty widely, from full-on suits to jeans. Our best advice, as always, is thus: call the group planning the conference or retreat, and ask how they recommend you dress. Hopefully, the planners will have attended previous incarnations of the event and can recommend from experience. (And if not, hey, at least you can point the finger at somebody.) [Read more...]