Archive | January 2013

Classics are always in Fashion!

As we come up on the spring season for fashion are you still spending your clothing budget on keeping up with trends?  As a marketer that would make me very happy to have you buying every time a new season is introduced – which by the way is five times a year for women’s apparel.

But as a person that has other payments to make besides keeping my professional wardrobe in shape, trying to keep up with fashion trends is a ball and chain around my ankle that I don’t need. When I was in the fashion business it was my job to be in fashion.  Now that I am not I’ve found an alternative – classics.   And you might consider them too.

Why?  Classics are always in fashion, year in and year out.  Designers always introduce some form of classic styles on the runway each year.  Those that are affluent and influential see the value and prestige of staying with the classics.  What constitutes a classic?  Let me give you some examples and some tips for staying in fashion without busting the bank with classics.

  • If you just love fashion find the one key piece that is common among the new styles being introduced that will update it and get that.
  • Without killing your pay check you can update your wardrobe with key accessories, such as scarves, jewelry, belts and hosiery.
  • Pick classic styles like navy blazers, camel sport coats, pinstriped suits, button-down collared shirts, shirtwaist dresses, trench coats and coat dresses.
  • The suit will never go out of style so choose either double or single breasted suits.
  • Shoes such as pumps and loafers for women and oxfords, wingtips and slip-ons for men are here forever.
  • There are classics in colors such as navy, black, and charcoal grey that are worn around the world all year long.
  • Keep with classic patterns such as houndstooth, tweed, herringbone, regimental stripes, and chalk stripes.
  • Try classic plaids such as tartan, windowpane, scotch and glen plaids.  Glen plaids are also known as bankers’ plaids.
  • For women’s jewelry keep to gold, silver or pearls.  Heck, they don’t have to be real but they do create the aire of affluence that women need to make an impact in a competitive work environment.

Staying up with fashion is work – that is why it is called a business.  Be in fashion all year long by investing in the classics!

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Networking Over Lunch with Ease!

A lot has been published lately about dining etiquette and I can understand why.  Most of us were raised on McDonald’s, Burger King or Pizza Hut.  For most of us we are lost when it comes to your first convention banquet.  Knowing about which fork to use and what to do with your napkin will help you feel confident in when networking over lunch.  Many executives read up on these or are coached so they can give off a polished image that says that they are comfortable and confident in the most posh of surroundings.  In fact, someone once told me, that to hang out with the rich you needed to know the appropriate behavior and get comfortable with nice things.  When you have the know-how, then you will give off the aura of being well-to-do as well.  Here are some tips so that you can feel confident in any dining situation:

  • Don’t talk with your mouth full, chew with your mouth full or smack when eating.
  • Sit at the table in a comfortably erect posture, not like the naval academy!
  • Place your napkin in your lap when you sit down.  Please don’t tuck it in your shirt or blouse.
  • Don’t stack your dishes when you’re done.  On a side note, I would also wish that waiters would not stack them in front of me – it’s gross!
  • At a small party wait until the host or guest of honor start eating before you do. If at a large banquet, if seated at a table, wait until the table is served before eating.
  • Don’t reach across the table for the salt, pepper, sugar or cream.  Ask that it be passed to you.
  • Initiate passing of the salt and pepper, or when it is passed to you, use it and than pass it to the person next to you.
  • Ok, now to the table setting, your glasses will be on your right side and your bread plate will be on your left.  The salad fork is left of the entrée fork.  The large spoon on your right is for a soup course.  Don’t slurp this course!  The dessert fork and coffee spoon are usually place at the top of the entrée plate.  Usually, when there are a lot of utensils the rule of thumb is to work from the outside in.
  • When eating American style you hold the fork in your right hand (if right handed) when bringing the food to the mouth.  Do not lean toward the plate so you’re inches above it.  The problem I see most often among men and women of my age and younger is when they are trying to cut something.  It’s rather barbaric.  Instead, put the fork in your left hand (if right handed) and the knife in your right, cut the food (one to three pieces at a time) place the knife horizontally at the top of the plate, and switch the fork (with the food on it) to your right hand and bring it to your mouth.  Learn how to hold your knife correctly rather than looking as though you are stabbing your food.
  • If you are allergic to a certain food just don’t eat it.  If you are vegetarian, fill up before you go if you know that the main course is not and there are not any vegetarian options.  This is particularly true for home parties.  If the host asks just say that you were full on all the delicious food that was offered.
  • When you have finished eating, place your fork, knife and other utensils used at the clock position of ten minutes to four ( If you are right handed), 20 minutes to 2 is a good position for left-handers.

After Hello: Getting the Conversation Going

Networking is not an easy skill to master.  It requires the ability to carry on a conversation and make an impression. Once you’ve been introduced, what then?  A person can size you up in 3 to 4 seconds.  However, in the next 10 minutes after a first meeting you have the opportunity to make or break those formed expectations, beginning with your greeting.

Here are some tips to make your first impression a lasting one:

  • When you are introduced, if you are seated, stand up.  This communicates that you are indeed happy to meet the person.
  • Once you have stood up, step forward and smile.  Even if it’s been your worst day, try to look pleasant and extend your hand and say hello.
  • When you are in public and someone sees you and says hello, a smile and a nod is all that’s needed when passing by.
  • When being introduced to someone who does not have full use of his or her right arm, extend your right hand anyway and they will extend their left.
  • When seeing an old friend, extend your hand rather than giving a hug in business.
  • If you tend to be nervous when meeting people, resulting in clammy hands, don’t fret.  Carry a handkerchief with you and wipe them off before meeting someone.
  • Practice making a good handshake – it communicates everything about you.  A lifeless handshake equates to a lifeless, insecure person.  Forget crippling handshakes, the “politician’s pump” or “the glove.”  Give a handshake that is positive and firm and held for about 3 to 4 seconds.  Give direct eye contact and smile as well.
  • To initiate conversation you might ask a few questions to learn more about the person but avoid the “twenty questions.”
  • Another way to get past the hellos and how-do-you-do’s is to ask questions related to attitudes, likes and dislikes like food, the music or the place that the event is being held, or about interest in the arts and literature.  Avoid complaining about the event, though.
  • Another way to stimulate rapport is to give a sincere complement.  A simple thank you is all that is necessary as a response.  Don’t tell how much it cost and where you got it.
  • Asking for help is another way of establishing rapport.  People are more than happy to help someone who asks for advice.  For example, “Where should someone go for a great meal and entertainment?”
  • Another way to approach someone is to start a conversation about your hobbies.  If one of your hobbies is traveling, you might ask whether the other person has traveled and talk about his experiences.  Don’t monopolize on your hobbies, ask them about their hobbies.  This brings out the best in people and establishes a sound, lasting rapport.
  • Humor is another approach.  For example, “Gosh, if this party gets any more popular, we’ll have to start lining up like sardines.”  Avoid off-color jokes and other touchy subject.  It’s safer to joke about the weather than about religion, race, politics or the battle of the sexes.  If you’re not a great joke teller you might want to avoid this approach.

 

Let’s Do Lunch!

One of the best ways to break the ice and formulate great relationships is over lunch. Most of us feel comfortable when it comes to conducting business in the office but are nervous wrecks when its’ conducted over a dining table.  Here are some tips that will make any venture over a meal something to look forward to besides winning the account.  Many of these you might already know and do but it’s always good to hear it again

  • Don’t talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open.  It is truly not a pleasant site to see.
  • Sit comfortably erect with your napkin in your lap, not stuffed in your collar or blouse.
  • Elbows on the table are appropriate after the meal but for comfort you can put your wrist and forearm on it while eating.
  • Please don’t stack the dishes when done eating.  It’s really not cool either when the waiter does it, but it’s their job to clear the table.
  • If at a luncheon or dinner function, wait until your host starts to eat.  If a large banquet wait until everyone at your table has been served.
  • Don’t reach across the table for the salt, pepper or other condiments; ask for them to be passed to you.
  • Turn off your cell phone during the business meal or a banquet.  Unless your wife is expecting a baby or you have a sitter at home, turn the phone off.  It is not cool to take calls while dining.  If you are expecting a call, put it on vibrator mode and inform your client, then call them back away from the table.
  • Don’t feel the need to eat everything on your plate.  If you are full, stop.
  • If you need to excuse yourself during the meal, put your napkin in the chair and pick it up when you return.  When you are finished put your napkin next to your plate.
  • When finished eating put the utensils at diagonal positions on the clock of 10 and 4 or if you’re left handed 8 and 2.  This makes it easier for the server to take your plate.
  • As far as which utensils to use, a formal setting that has several forks, knives and spoons, you work from the outside in.  For example, your salad normally comes first and you eat it with the fork that is on the outside.  Use your knife to cut large pieces to something your mouth can handle.
  • Use bread or a cracker to push your food onto the fork, not your finger.
  • Remember a finger bowl is for your fingers not for a bath.
  • If at a private dinner party or banquet and they serve you something that you cannot eat, just don’t eat it.  Please don’t give your host a list of things you won’t eat, it is not their job to cater to your needs.  Just pass it on and don’t make an issue of it.
  • Don’t fix your hair or do your lipstick at the table.  Go to the restroom to freshen up.
  • When done don’t lean back and push away from the table and say I’m done.
  • Hold your utensils appropriately not as props or as tools to grab.  For example, the fork should rest across your middle finger with your index finger and thumb over the top.
  • Don’t wash food down with a liquid.  Chew and swallow before you take a drink.
  • Wait until you leave before using a toothpick, and finally,
  • If you did the inviting remember you are the buyer and so the check comes to you!