I was reminiscing yesterday with a dear friend who paid an impromptu visit to me. We worked together for almost eight years, and had about an hour to talk about her new career. She’s a new RN in her mid 40’s, and has an extensive background in marketing; (I bought my promotions company from her ten years ago). She was a firecracker (still is), gutsy, and often made cold calls to VP’s of Coca-Cola to pitch an idea for the Olympics (and, she got their attention).
We talked about ways to combine her expertise and love of marketing with her new medical background, and came up with ideas to blend her passions. And, we laughed at stories we shared over the years.
Great teaching moment – from the late 1990’s:
Still employed as a Promotions Manager for a Fortune 500 Media giant, we made a sales call (during my lunch hour) to pitch a program for the Ryder Cup. The prospect was a major law firm in Boston.
Dressed the way I would be for my own job, I thought I looked great, never thinking about the consequences of dressing for the client’s corporate culture – a law firm. So, my red jacket with the leopard collar, which was quite stunning, didn’t quite make it. According to feedback it was also one of the reasons why we didn’t get the job. (It was also noted that my colleague needed a haircut).
To this day, I smile in my own naiveté at dressing for what I liked, not imaging how I might fit in.
It’s a lesson learned for a big appointment. It’s ok to check out how your prospect or their boss dresses in the office, or on casual days. It’s smart business and gives you perspective. Generally, I’d say to look put together (have a few great outfits) be
professional and groomed — but (ladies) unless you’re pitching to a more creative field – I’d leave the leopard jacket home (or short skirt, low neckline top) – you get the point.
Years have gone by and I still tell this story with a smile. Granted, our ‘personal style’ might not have been acceptable to the gatekeeper of the VP, though he did love us. But, we were still able to secure three other Ryder Cup clients that year, and more conservative business in the North East.
My colleague got a haircut, and I bought a stylish navy blue suit.
Dress for you anytime, but for a client, think about their audience.
Growing up in business, oh the lessons we learn,