Dress to impress: Six things to do when meeting a potential client

When meeting a potential client at their offices for the first time, it’s your chance to shine, and show them what you’re made of and why they should do business with you. But this isn’t just about what you say and how. It’s also about what you wear. Your outfit can grab their attention before you speak and the second you walk through the door.

So to make sure you make the best impression when meeting your next potential client, here are six things to do to ensure you dress to impress.

Do your research

The first thing to do when deciding what to wear for a client meeting is your research. Check your potential client’s website and search the internet for the latest news about them. What kind of business are they and what sort of team do they have? Are they mostly a young group? Are they modern or stylish, quirky or traditional? Knowing things like this can help you put together an outfit that’s a good fit for their style. While it’s important to reflect your brand and own business style, it‘s more important to fit in with your client, especially if you are visiting their offices. If they’re young and casual, for instance, turning up suited and booted will properly look out of place.

When you have an idea of what type of outfit to go for, if it’s not already in your wardrobe, you can do your research and check the latest lines. This could include the business lines of high-street clothing retailers like Next, or an online business uniform provider, like Simon Jersey.

Make a statement

When meeting a potential client, you should look at it as an opportunity to make a statement about you and your business. You’re representing your business, so you should aim to look the part and show you mean, well, business. You can do this with what you say and how you say it, as well as your approach and how you hold yourself. But you can also do it with your choice of clothes. There are different ways to make a statement this way. You could make sure elements of each item of clothing you wear has some subtle, striking appeal, for instance. This could include the cut and edging of a jacket, or the lines of a skirt or pair of trousers. Or you could make one element of your outfit stand out, while helping to tie it all together. A good example is a bright and bold power shirt or blouse, alongside a black or neutral suit.

Dress comfortably  

When meeting a client, one of the worst things you can do is wear clothes that you’re not comfortable in. Wearing something that causes you to fidget, or constantly needs adjusting or pulling down, can be distractive for both you and your potential client. It can cause you to lose concentration on what they’re saying, lose your own train of thought when speaking, or make you feel less confident and just want the meeting to be over and done with. You should also consider things like light, soft and cool materials, stretchy fabrics that provide ease of movement, and comfortable shoes. While trendy footwear, like sharp heels or pointed men’s shoes can make a statement, they’re not much good if they’re uncomfortable to walk in. Instead, it’s better to choose comfort over style.  

Choose well fitted clothes

Making sure you wear well-fitted clothing is also important to make the right impression to your potential client. Your trousers shouldn’t be dragging on the floor, for instance. Nor should they be too tight. Your belly shouldn’t be popping out over your shirt, and your blazer should not be short in the arms. Wearing badly fitted clothing doesn’t just look a bit scruffy, mismatched and unprofessional. It can suggest laziness, being disorganised and unprepared. And if you’re like that about your wardrobe, what are you like about your attitude to business? This could be what your potential client is thinking.  

Dress appropriately

The right dress style when meeting a client isn’t just about looking your best. It’s about dressing appropriately. For instance, it’s not really appropriate to show too much skin, and showing bare legs and arms can be distractive. It’s better to create a classy, professional look and cover up. Women should avoid short skirts and low-cut tops, and men should opt for long sleeve shirts and avoid showing too much chest if wearing an open collar shirt. You should also keep accessories to a minimum so not to distract from your outfit and what you’re saying. This includes things like heavy, bulky jewellery. Women should consider subtle stud earrings and pendant necklaces, for instance, while men should avoid clunky chains.      

Avoid over-styling and grooming

The styling of your hair, makeup or beard can give your chosen outfit that finishing touch. But over styling, like combined heavy lipstick and eye shadow or over-gelled hair, can distract from a winning look. While you might want to get your client’s attention, you’ll want that to be for the right reasons. Also, a woman wearing something like bright, heavy lipstick can result in the worry (not to mention, the embarrassment) of it being smudged on their face or getting on their teeth during that all-important pitch. Instead, it’s better to opt for a simple, toned down and more natural look. For instance, a traditional and tidy short back and sides haircut, for a man, and long hair simply tied back, for a woman – helping to pull together a polished and professional look that’s sure to make the right impression.

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