How I took my dress from drab to fab – without a trip to the mall!

As I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day, I noticed a sale rack of summer items. My eye was instantly drawn to a chambray shift dress. I like to have a few easy dresses for hot summer days, Saturday running errands or throwing over my bikini to hit the beach.

I kept picking it up and putting it down, picking it up and putting it down, until it was finally my turn to put my groceries on the belt. I asked the cashier what the return policy was on these dresses, it was a good policy, so I yet again picked the dress up, paid and proceeded home.

One of the reasons I asked about the return policy was because I didn’t try it on – I wanted to know if I didn’t like it or if it didn’t fit properly, could I get my money back.

It fit just fine; it is super comfy, good length: coming a touch above the knees and has pockets. Got to love a dress with pockets!

But there was one issue.

 

I looked like I was wearing a hospital gown!

 

 

Regardless of the fact this was a casual ‘Saturday’ dress, it needed a little something-something to snazz it up. I would not be seen in a hospital gown running around town.

My creative genius was alive and excited to see what would become of this drab dress or was I destined to get my cash back?

I knew, for starters, I needed to create angles and interest but nothing over the top.
I thought about where I would potentially be wearing it; outdoor concerts, running errands, meeting friends for an iced tea on a hot summer day to name a few.

In my own closet I began by grabbing shoes without any heel or wedge, a handful of necklaces and handbags, scarves and hats to play. The scarves and hat were eliminated quickly, they brought the eye upwards but looked a little top-heavy and then still boxy from neck down.

 

Here are 3 looks that came together fairly quickly,

in about 20 minutes.

 

 

How I took my dress from drab to fab.

  1. Using a full-length mirror is essential for dressing and creating outfits, it helped me evaluate and identify how to snazz this dress up
  2. I tried a few different necklaces to add length, angles and interest. Creating a balanced look meant the necklace should not be too chunky or too subtle. I personally don’t have many long necklaces so I will be keeping my eyes open for another one!
  3. Experimented with handbags. I bet you won’t believe me when I tell you in my thirties, I would only have 1 handbag per season. Shocking! These days I have a collection, many bought at thrift stores and I use them all as I finish off an outfit.
  4. Choose footwear for casual comfort and a balanced look keeping in mind my outings in this dress.

 

 Ready to rock your style but not sure where to begin?

Schedule Your Complimentary Style Success Session Today!

Book Now

 

 


Less is more.

I was at it again yesterday, pairing down my own wardrobe with an extra 20 minutes I had between my lunch date and a client.

This spring had been so busy I hadn’t taken the time to purge myself, instead, my closet was a mess of shoes strewn on the floor, as well a handful of items to be donated and on the hangers a mix of winter items with spring/summer. I am almost embarrassed to add an unpacked box from when we moved in 9 months ago.

When I walked in to change my pants (it’s super small by the way and I am hoping for a closet system to organize better soon!) something snapped inside of me and I began to grab and toss items that needed to go.

The limited time added some pressure which made me more ruthless and thus freer by the end!

Two kitchen catcher garbage bags full and a few items my friend is happily taking – I was texting her some items during my purge I thought she would like, suit her well and appreciate since I had spent good monies on them.

We put too much value on pieces we spent good money on but continue to sit in our closet unworn.

So, how did I decide what stayed and what went?

Many of the pieces – the ones I spent more money on and still fit me well hadn’t been worn because they simply didn’t suit me anymore, so my younger girlfriend gladly took them and I feel good about that; they suit her at the stage she is at in her life.

The other items I was bored with, so they sit there waiting to be worn and not getting picked – so they went too!

I LOVE to purge. Having uncluttered space throughout my home, not just the closet feels great. So, it’s no surprise that over the next week every time I am waiting for the kettle to boil or dinner to cook, I will likely be cleaning out a drawer or two.

Is it time to re-evaluate your style and create a wardrobe that makes you feel fabulous every day? If you said HECK YES, sign up today for a complimentary Style Success Session and see how I can help!

 


Be a rule breaker.

Growing up I was taught not to wear white after Labour Day, it was considered a faux pas, a no-no, no one who was anybody would dare do it.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Dr Seuss

There is something so fresh and stunning in the absence of colour in choosing white as your base. I am always attracted to white vehicles thus the last three cars I have had were white.

No longer considered a no-no in 2018 wearing white year-round is classy, sharp and unexpected, because so many women are still hesitant to wear it. I think their mother’s voices still echo in their heads. Shhh, mom stop telling me what to wear I am a grown woman for heaven’s sake!

I give you permission to do it, break the rule and rock your style this fall wearing white, looking effortlessly chic.

Here’s how:

 

  1. – Consider the weight of fabric in regard to the weather. Unless the temperature is tropical pack up the super lightweight, crisp white pants and opt for a lined pair of pants and pair with a soft thin sweater for a cozy but classy look. The contrast of the fabrics in this picture is balanced beautifully.

  2. – Skip the flip-flops, strappy sandals or Birkenstocks and instead pair white jeans with a chunky peek-a-boo toe shoe, bootie or boot.

  3. – Choose a softer white, ivory or winter white for blazers & outerwear and leave the crisp white jackets for spring/summer. Do wear crisp white blouses or tee shirts, both are wardrobe essentials for endless outfit creations.

  4. – Black & white is forever a classic. When in doubt or shy about taking the step to wear a white bottom in fall/winter months choosing a predominantly white with black pattern is a nice compromise.

 

 


3 Tips for Exploring Your Mid-Life Awakening

I often say that when women reach their 40s, they don’t have a mid-life crisis; they have an awakening.

Or, at least, that’s what happened to me!

I was having way too much fun celebrating my fortieth year to stop and listen to the stirrings of my awakening but, by the time I reached age 42, there was no denying them any longer.

I had a good life, a happy marriage, a great business and social life, and yet I kept feeling the pull of the word MORE. I need to be MORE, do MORE, create MORE.

I ignored it for a while. “Don’t be greedy. Be content with where you’re at!” I would tell myself over and over again. I mean, who was I to think I could possibly have MORE?

But MORE took over. My curiosity and creative nature led me to do some soul-searching. I began to question my purpose and to realize which activities fulfilled me and which drained me. Ultimately, it led me to transitioning my career in the beauty industry as a master hairstylist and salon owner to an image coach and consultant – a move which has continued to allow me and my business to expand, blossom and grow. MORE!!

Have you felt the stirring?

Maybe the kids are off to college and you find yourself cooking the ‘usual’ Tuesday supper and thinking, I don’t even like tacos.

What do I want? What do like? Who am I now at this stage in my life? These are some of the many questions I pondered when I embraced my awakening, and you may be asking similar ones yourself. Here are 3 of the things I did to help find the answers:

1. Get off the hamster wheel.

And I don’t mean hop off for a quick 10-minute meditation and expect all the answers to your questions.

Stop, unplug, and listen.

Getting away from your usual surroundings works best. At the very least, take an afternoon off and go to a park or a secluded area on the beach, sit under a tree and just BE. No phone, no books, no magazine – nothing that will stimulate the mind. Just sit there or lie there, and breathe.

(That sounds glorious and scary, doesn’t it?!)

The brightest clarity and greatest ideas and ‘Ah-ha!’ moments have come to me when I’m not ‘thinking.’ Do bring a notebook and pen with you, and when your own thoughts, inspirations or ‘Ah-ha!’s surface, jot them down.

park-2344242_640

2. Press play, record and erase.

Start to track how you feel in social groups, activity or club settings, and with people you are surrounding yourself with. Are you feeling stimulated, or drained?

Often, we just keep doing the same things we’ve always done because, well, that’s what we’ve always done!

If you find yourself bored or craving a different scene, that is totally OK. Having new experiences and meeting new people is exciting. Begin to explore by joining something new or reaching out to someone you’ve wanted to get to know better but is outside of your ‘regular circle.’

3. Find your inner child.

The popularity of adult colouring books is proof we’re craving simple ways to be creative again, like when we were kids!

Think back to the things you loved to do as a kid. How can you bring that into your life now?

When I explored this, 3 activities surfaced for me:

  1. Baking with my grandma: I’m still an avid baker!
  2. Playing “store”: Well, I’m an entrepreneur and I owned a spa.
  3. Entertaining/performing: BINGO! As a kid, I loved putting together dance or gymnastic routines with my friends for our parents, or singing in the school choir.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most graceful or musically talented, but it brings me JOY! So, when I got asked to join the community theatre, I said yes!

Now, I know that thinking about doing even one of these 3 suggestions can feel overwhelming. So many thoughts, fears, and reasons to not do anything can start bubbling up to the surface faster than we realizing what’s going on!

  • I have all this laundry to fold
  • Where am I going to find the time to do any of that? I already have way too much on my plate.
  • What if I find the answers I’m looking for, but my husband/parents/friends won’t support me?

Sound familiar?

This is why I am creating a program to help women navigate this life transition in the near future. To get more details about the upcoming program and be added to the wait list sign up below!


Does Your Image on the Screen Represent Your Image Behind the Screen?

by Emily Crookston

 

I finally made it to the salon this week to get a cut and color. This is kind of big deal because I rescheduled the appointment 3 times (#freelancerlife). It’s also a big deal because I’m trying a new stylist and salon after a somewhat disastrous experience at a different salon back in December.

 

My new stylist absolutely blew me away! She talked with me for 15 minutes before she even moved me to her chair and she took the time to explain everything she wanted to do with my hair. As a result, I have a cut and color that I love for the first time in years. What an amazing first impression!

 

After my experience, I realized something: What I project in my virtual image is directly connected to how I present myself in my daily life.

 

I had been putting off finding a new salon because, as a freelance content writer, I don’t often have face-to-face meetings with clients. So, it’s not a high priority for me to look my absolute best all the time. However, looking and, more importantly, feeling confident definitely helps me do my best work, even when my work goes on behind a computer screen.

 

First impressions are gold in business.

 

We all know someone who owns whatever room she walks into. These people always land the best jobs and find the right dates. Far from being born lucky, these successful types have figured out the right formula for making an amazing first impression. The good news is that anyone can learn these psychologically tested and proven skills.

 

Victoria rightly points out that it only takes 7 seconds for people to make a judgment based on a first impression. But in the digital age, first impressions mean something different from what they once meant. Depending on your industry, you are more likely to make that first impression virtually than in person.

 

This is certainly true of my work; most of the time I must rely on my virtual image to get my message out and build credibility. The problem is that I sometimes rely too much on my virtual image.

 

I love the flexibility and independence of being a freelancer. But too often that flexibility and independence manifests itself in wearing yoga pants, not wearing makeup, and throwing my wet hair up into a scrunchy (okay, I haven’t worn a scrunchy since the 90s, but you get the idea) as I run out the door to work in the coffee shop.

 

My experience feeling more confident after finding a great stylist made me stop to reflect on few points that might help you too:

 

  1. Consider all aspects of your brand.

 

Does your online image reflect who you are in the real world? Some days, I allow myself to wear what’s comfortable and that’s perfectly okay. I mark off content days in my calendar and spend these days hiding out in the coffee shop or co-working space just cranking out content. On these days I know I won’t be meeting with clients and my appearance won’t reflect back on my brand.

 

Other days, however, I will be networking and representing my business. During these times, I know that the people I meet will be considering not only my look, but also how I speak and what I say as they ask themselves whether they want to do business with me or refer me to others.

 

It’s always important, though, to make sure all aspects of your brand from the images on your website, to your business cards, to your 30-second spiel align with your brand and present you in the way you want to be perceived.

 

Quick take-away: You can’t afford to hide behind a vague description of your work or project a lack of confidence in any aspect of your brand whether in virtual or meat space.

 

  1. Your next client could be at the grocery store with you.

 

Does your line of work require that you project a certain type of personal image? Like it or not, image is highly subjective. This means that your industry, your position, your gender, even your personality and attitude can affect how others perceive you.

 

Stereotypes and assumptions abound. Whereas it may be fine for me to bump into a potential client at the grocery store or coffee shop sweaty after my hot yoga class, my realtor friend may lose a sale because she popped into the pharmacy after taking a run in the middle of the afternoon.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, in an ideal world, we would all be able to drop clients who have unreasonable expectations and who would judge us for getting away from our desks during the weekday. But in the real world where we all want to succeed, we need to be at least a little mindful of others’ expectations.

 

Quick take-away: Your next client could be right in front of you and you are making an impression without even knowing it.

 

  1. Be ready for anything.

 

Even freelancers work for others and can find themselves at the whim of other people’s schedules. Plans change. You could be called into a last-minute meeting. I once had a client call me out of the blue, months after our initial meeting and ask me to meet with her in her office in 30 minutes.

 

Sure, I could have bought myself some extra time to run home and change; however, being able to run over to meet her when she wanted me to definitely scored me some brownie points.

 

With video conferencing being so important to doing business today, the last-minute video meeting is another possibility. It helps if you already have on a decent shirt and your hair hasn’t been tossed up in a sassy bun. Plan your morning to put your best business face forward, you’ll more prepared to tackle the day.  

 

Quick take-away: Plan your outfits for the next day each evening and toss your favorite make-up essentials in a bag that you keep with you all the time, so that you never miss an opportunity to put forward your best self.

 

Above all: Treat yourself like a professional.

 

Treating myself like a professional this week made me realize how much my outer appearance affects how I feel on the inside and how much how I feel on the inside affects the quality of my work. As often as I preach to my own clients about how their marketing content affects their image, I finally connected the dots for myself.

 

Going forward, I will definitely be paying more attention to my professional image both on the screen and behind the screen. Does your online image need a boost? Contact me and let’s chat about your content marketing needs.

 

crookston_headshot

 

Emily Crookston is the owner of the Pocket PhD (thepocketphd.com). She is a copywriter, former professor, and pocket resource for your business. Emily specializes in creating captivating content that converts, influences, and sounds like YOU on your best day. When she’s not writing intensely, she’s most likely practicing yoga intensely.


6 Ways to Beat the Mid-Winter Blahs That Don’t Require a Tropical Vacation

The weather outside is still frightful!

Going from bitter cold and snow storms, to rain with dampness that chills us to our bones – and it’s the middle of February! Sunshine has not been our friend this winter; usually I prefer the cold days with snow, as long as the sun is shining. Just the other day we had gorgeous, sunny weather and I could feel everyone’s energy lifting and becoming happier.

According to the groundhog, we still have 6 weeks left of winter! So, if you aren’t hitting Caribbean beaches this year for that extra boost of warmth and sun, here are some of my favourite, sure-fire ways to take those mid-winter blahs and kick them to the curb:

1. Add a pop of colour!

Our eyes (and spirits) have already seen enough black, grey, brown, maroon and navy this year. We are craving COLOUR in our lives.

Shake it up by adding colour in your ensemble. I have broken all the rules and pulled out my summer turquoise purse. As I frequently wear black, this works as a statement piece and I get a ton of compliments.

P.S. My toenails are a hot pink (just for me)!

2. Freshen up your ‘do.’

This is the time of year when I get the most requests from clients for “something different.”

The power of a fresh new cut, colour, or a few hilites, is often all you need to feel perky and put that extra bounce in your step.

Swapping out lipsticks from the rich darks or neutral tones to brighter shades will both enhance your new do and add that pop of colour you’re craving.

dreamstime_s_43207426

3. Buy yourself fresh flowers.

Adding a spring bouquet or even a single daisy to your desk, work area, or bedside table will bring a smile to your face whenever you look at it.

4. Bring your sexy back!

That frumpy feeling from being bundled up in several layers of winter clothing needs to go!

Embracing your feminine, sexy side is fun and builds confidence. Try wearing a lacy bra and panties, just for you. Join a pole dancing class; it’s a great way to get in touch with yourself, plus you get an incredible workout.

Or oil up your partner and take turns massaging each other. This is the month of love, after all! #loveyourself

lips-1991471_1280

5. Get outdoors.

Don’t roll your eyes at this one – I know you dread the thought of doing anything more than getting into and out of your car in weather like this! 😉

Trust me, spending time properly dressed for the elements and getting some fresh air will do wonders. A 15-minute walk or shovelling your driveway will increase your energy and improve your attitude.

6. Be sun-kissed without the sun.

Grab a self-tanner, bronzer, or an illuminating cream, spray or foam, and give your skin that golden glow without exposing yourself to harmful rays.

Read the directions to be sure to get the right shade and to avoid streaking.

Do you have any other tricks for beating the mid-winter blahs? Tell me in the comments!


Fashion: It’s not only about the clothes!

By Kay Habib

Do you see your personal style reflected in your home?

If so, you are not the only one! It’s quite natural, as fashion and interior design go hand in hand.

Fashion is not only about clothes and shoes anymore: fashion is a form of self-expression. What we wear says a lot about who we are, but it doesn’t just stop at our wardrobes. Trends in fashion are constantly impacting the interior design world.

Homeowners and designers are taking more risks to create the interiors that truly show their personal style. A huge contributing factor to this is the ever-growing influence of social media. As soon as Fashion Week ends, the latest trends are all over the internet and our inboxes.

Of course, some trends are accepted more than others. The ones that have a captivating story behind them tend to have the most impact, as it relates to our personal story and style driving an emotional response. Every fashion or celebrity event evokes a discussion in the media (and in our homes) about the guest lounges, the after-party décor and the outfits.

These discussions hold such influence that it takes only days for the same to show up in the retail stores. As a result of this, attitudes about interior design are changing, and interiors are becoming a place where we embrace rapid change and feel excited to openly express ourselves!

Open any home style books for 2016 or 2017, and you’ll see styles reflecting what is predominant in the fashion world:

  • Jewel tones with greys and blacks.
  • Chevron and geometrical patterns placed with beautiful florals.
  • Patterns and fabrics typically used for dresses and gowns being used for decorative pillows, drapes, and wallpaper. (This reminds me of 18th century fashion and interior design, although not as intricate or heavy!)

It’s safe to say it’s time to stop looking at the worlds of fashion and décor as two separate entities. If you’re a fashion diva, there’s no doubt your personal style is reflected in your home décor!

Subtle Ways to Reflect Your Personal Style in Your Home Décor

On a daily basis, I witness my clients becoming more and more interested in staying on-trend and making sure their living spaces are as current as their wardrobes. Here are some ways you can do the same:

  • Use a luscious velvet for throw pillows or drapes in homage to a luxurious evening gown
  • Pair rich colours like purple or emerald green with greys and gold tones

image1

image2

No More Beige!

No more sticking with white or beige walls with mellow drapes! It’s time to stop avoiding bold colors or patterns in your upholstery. Now, if you like black and white stripes, you can happily wear it as a skirt, top or a dress, or have a gorgeous rug or accent chair in the same pattern, and still pull it off!

image3

 

 

habib188

 

Kay Habib is an Interior Decorator and Certified Home Stager, and owner of SkillDecor. She is passionate about helping her client create beautiful spaces keeping in mind the purpose behind it, such as selling a home or customized interior decorating. Kay also has a line of custom decorative pillows that are produced in London, ON. To learn more about Kay and her services, you can find her online at www.skilldecor.com.

 


How to Create a Beautiful Holiday Tablescape with Items You Already Have!

By MaryAnn Skaro

tablescape1One of my favourite ways to decorate a table is by using things I find around my house.  For a last-minute holiday look, I went into my recycling bin to see what I could find.  I picked up a few empty beer bottles, one empty wine bottle, and a string of white lights I found in our garage.  I was going to let these few items guide my inspiration.  Of course, I had my doubts, but I didn’t let that stand in my way of creating something my family was going to love.

Using these and other items I already had in my home, here’s how I created this festive tablescape:

I already had a red and green festive tablecloth that was going to serve as a backdrop to my creative scape.  On my way into the kitchen, I noticed martini glasses that I knew would somehow add to the ambiance of my table.  

Next, I soaked the beer bottles and peeled off the labels. I had a feeling they were going to act as a vessel for my lighting.  I knew I wanted greenery, so I cut off a few fresh branches from our Christmas tree, and grabbed some pine cones I had lying around in a decorative bowl on my coffee table.  I had left over gold and silver ribbon that I was going to use, as well.

I placed all these items on the table and, before long, a rustic theme emerged!  

tablescape2I filled the beer bottles with the white lights, and filled the martini glasses with the evergreen cuttings and pine combs.  I used the leftover ribbon to wrap the wine bottle, which became my candle holder.   I also decided to mix and match the placemats, so I ended up using festive green and red napkins. (By the way, my kids ended up loving these placemats the best.)

To be completely honest, I surprised myself with the quality and the aesthetics of our holiday table!  I turned on the lights, and the subtle yellow glow from the beer bottles transformed our dining experience.  It was a fun table, a great conversation piece, and, best of all it was easy, effortless, and inexpensive.

About MaryAnn Skaro:

 

maryannskaro-headshotAs a joy coach, I’m here to inspire you through great food, delicious conversation and elegant ambience.

I host healthy, beautifully crafted luncheons for busy Moms who are ready to pause, find their joy and reconnect to the things that matter most. As a busy Mom myself, I know the importance of recharging my body, mind, and soul.

As your hostess, I am ready to feed and serve you, so that you leave my table feeling inspired and filled with a sense of purpose to fuel the success of your business. You can find me online at www.maryannskaro.com.


How to Crack the Dress Code on Event Invitations

 

Has a wedding or event invitation ever left you confused as to what to wear? Themed events and parties are on the rise; Great Gatsby, Disco Glam or Back to the 80’s just to name a few!

These decade-themed parties are pretty straight forward, encouraging a guest to go ‘all out’ in an outfit or costume. Weddings, cocktail parties, galas, fundraisers and New Year’s Eve can be a bit trickier to decipher the language on the invitation. Here’s how to crack the code so you’ll never feel over- or under-dressed again:

Wedding Attire Etiquette

First rule of thumb: as a guest at a wedding, remember that today is ALL about the bride! The beautiful bride is the star, so dress and act accordingly. Although wearing black is no longer considered a faux pas, white should absolutely be avoided. Every religion and culture has customs and traditions; when attending a wedding outside your own culture, reach out and ask for specific guidelines. Your host will appreciate it and you will feel so much more comfortable!

dreamstime_s_49455533

“Dressing well is a form of good manners.”

Tom Ford

Black Tie

This indicates a very formal event and usually means it is an evening affair.

For him: A tuxedo, a black bow tie, a cummerbund, and patent leather shoes.

For her: A long evening gown or a chic cocktail dress.

Formal or Black Tie Optional

This event is slightly less formal but still suggests dressing accordingly.

For him: A dark suit or tuxedo; conservative, not flashy.

For her: A long dress, chic cocktail dress, or dressy separates.

Semi-formal / Smart Casual / Dressy Casual

This one is a lot trickier to decipher! Take cues from the time of year and time of day during which the wedding or event is being held.

For him: A suit – light or dark, depending upon the season; colourful, trendy shirts and ties. A vest can also be worn as an alternative to a suit jacket.

For her: A cocktail dress, maxi dress, skirt with a top, or dressy pants and a blouse.

Beach Formal

This suggests an elegant beach wedding, so dress to impress while still keeping sand and exposure to sun in mind.

For him: A summer suit with a linen shirt (no ties required), linen pants or khakis, and sandals.

For her: A maxi dress, a lightweight summery cocktail dress or a dressy sundress, and sandals.

Casual

Consider the purpose of the event when deciding what to wear! Jeans, t-shirts, and shorts are acceptable when a casual dress code has been indicated for a friend’s birthday BBQ or a Euchre tournament at the community centre. When it comes to attending a “casual” wedding, unless specified as acceptable on the invitation, steer clear of jeans and shorts!

For him: Dress pants, chino with button-down shirt or polo shirt.

For her: Dress, skirt and top, or a blouse with dress pants.

When in doubt, remember this advice from Karl Lagerfeld:

“One is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a Little Black Dress.”

Do you have questions about what to wear to your next special event? Schedule a complimentary Style Success Session with me!


EVENT ETIQUETTE: Ponderings from an Event Planner

 

by Heather Reid

As the calendar turns over to November and we wind our way towards the new year, our attention turns to holiday gatherings and a full calendar of social activities.   Business parties, office soirees, gala evenings and intimate dinner parties all require us to put our best, professional selves forward.  As women leaders and entrepreneurs, we are always being observed by those around us – and we want to come “to the party” prepared and professional.  

Party or GatheringHaving planned countless business and social events during my 22 year career as an entrepreneurial event planner, I’ve seen first-hand the “good, bad, and ugly” in event etiquette and behavior.  When you’ve considered and incorporated my ponderings, I’m confident that you will move through the upcoming season with flair and finesse – all appropriate to your professionalism and persona!  

Be Prepared

  • RSVP in timely manner, and then honour your decision.  If you indicate you’re attending, show up!  If you decline, don’t!  Plans are made by the event hosts and costs are incurred – show your appreciation of the opportunity to participate by keeping your word.    
  • If you are unfamiliar with the guest list, arrange to talk to the event organizers as to who is expected to be there and who they could introduce you to.  Setting personal and professional intentions for each and every gathering is a solid practice to moving yourself and your business forward.  
  • Always carry your business cards, but do not pass it out unless you’re asked for it – and then, present it with the text facing the person you are presenting it to.  On the flip side, if you request a business card – accept it with both hands if possible, look at it, and acknowledge it.  Treat the business card with respect.  
  • A well-timed and well-performed handshake, combined with a genuine smile, is a winning way to be noticed and remembered.
  • Inquire, with the event planner and/or known guests, about the dress code if not indicated – dress one notch above the dress code to stand out.  If you over dress too much – you’ll look like you don’t belong; if you under dress, you’ll look like you will never belong.   
  • If provided a name badge, oblige.  However, be sure to wear the name badge on the upper chest region of the arm that you shake hands with……it aligns the other guest’s eyes with your hand and your name badge

Be Aware

  • Holiday functions are not a time to let loose – you are being observed and are “on stage” so to speak…being observed by coworkers, supervisors, clients, board members and potential colleagues.  
  • At functions that have simple or downsized bar set-ups, keep your libations simple. It is not the time to hold up the line with a complicated drink order or to show off your mixology skills!
  • Position yourself in high traffic areas where you will be able to more easily insert yourself into conversations – ie., hang out near the bar, near the food.  Avoid isolated locations or remaining stationary at a table.
  • If you are not the host – this is not your party.  Be respectful of the host, the purpose of the gathering, and be considerate of the other guests.  Unless you’re the hired entertainment, you’re not there to upstage your hosts!

Be Interested and Interesting

  • Never underestimate the power of being able to introduce yourself to others in a polished and professional manner.   This does not come naturally to most people – so you’ll need to prepare and practice your introduction, and then deliver it in a relaxed and authentic-to-you way.  Captivating introductions are rarely spontaneously spoken!  
  • Be prepared to acknowledge and talk to any level of business professional – front-line to CEOs.  
  • Be prepared to talk about business subjects, but be armed with timely and relevant every-day topics, too.  Avoiding politics, religion and gossip are strongly recommended.   
  • If you are at an event where there is a guest speaker – rather than trying to get to the speaker, approach someone that asked a question or is a support person to the speaker – you will make a meaningful connection with fewer guests “in line” to contend with.  
  • Being ready and willing to connect people to one another is one of the most appreciated skills at a social gathering.  Guests are there to make meaningful connections – and facilitating these will position you favourably!
  • Being present and in the moment – rather than responding to your phone or gazing off at other guests – will gain you more respect in the eyes of the person that you’re with, than you’ll get from those that are the distraction.   Be purposeful and be in the moment.

Be Appreciative

  • Always be mindful and pleasant to event staff – remember, you are being observed – and the way you interact with those “serving” you is very telling!
  • Events are organized opportunities to network – and the rules of dating do not apply to the connections you make.  Don’t wait for the other person to follow-up; follow-up promptly.  Be persistent in your efforts and always respectful of their wishes and time.
  • Acknowledge the efforts of your event host – either in advance or post-event.  A token of appreciation or the simple gesture of a hand-written note is always appropriate!  

Participating in business and social events is both a responsibility and a privilege.  To get the most of your time there, be sure you represent your best self by being:

prepared…..aware…..interested and interesting…and appreciative!

 

heather-reid Heather Reid is the Founder and Owner of Planner Protect – a first-of-its-kind boutique contract review agency that negotiates fair venue contracts for independent and in-house event planners, and event hosts. Heather has more than 20 years’ experience in the event planning industry and is also Owner & Principal Planner of Innovative Conferences & Communications. As an expert in contract negotiations and the meetings industry, Heather has authored articles in major industry publications, and has been invited to speak at IncentiveWorks 2015 and 2016, Canadian Sport Tourism Association, PCMA East Chapter Meetings (Ottawa & Toronto), PCMA CIC Conference and several CanSPEP national conferences.

Are you interested in contributing a guest post to Victoria’s Blog? Please email [email protected] for more information!