Recently I posted “5 Common Body Language Mistakes on International Business Trips” to give some tips and advice to those who travel internationally for business. I received such a fabulous response with lots of readers sharing it on their social media platforms, I wanted to offer you some more tips related to a very important element of your professional image; your professional dress.
Why is your professional dress so important? The way you’re dressed (and your body language) is the first thing others notice about you. When you walk into a room and meet your international business partners for the first time, they will be looking at your professional attire to gather clues about your ability, intelligence and to identify whether you are somebody they would like to work with.
If you arrive at a business meeting in business casual when everyone else is in formal business attire, what do you think they will think about you?
Whether we like it or not, we do judge people by their clothes, just like we judge a book by its cover.
Below I want to share with you 4 common professional dress mistakes that can undermine your executive presence on international business trips.
1. Showing Too Much Skin
In some cultures, showing too much skin in a professional context is inappropriate and impolite. I remember when I was working in Japan, even in the middle of summer when it was extremely humid, other professional women would still be wearing a jacket to cover their arms. And the men would often wear a tie. On your international business trip, make sure you always carry with you a jacket to cover your arms. And for the men, expect to wear a tie.
2. Wearing Open-Toed Shoes (for Women)
Many cultures feel that open-toed shoes are simply too casual for the office, and showing your toes to your coworkers is often seen as impolite, regardless of how fabulous your latest pedicure was. When you travel internationally on business you always need to take with you a pair of closed-toed shoes to wear to your business meetings. I suggest a conservative pair of medium heels in black or navy to go with your conservative dark suit.
3. Socks/Stockings With Holes
If you are invited out to a restaurant during your business trip, you may be asked to take off your shoes at the entrance to the restaurant. The last thing you want your potential new client to see are your socks or stockings peppered with holes or covered with lint. This will not reflect well on your professionalism. Pack into your international business suitcase socks or stockings that are in good condition, ones that you would not be embarrassed for others to see.
4. Not Formal Enough
Anglo-Saxon business cultures are often less formal than those in Europe or Asia. It’s not uncommon to see professionals arrive at the office without a jacket or without a tie. But if your international business partner is used to more formal and conservative attire, how will they view your casual professional outfits? Whether we like it or not, our appearance matters. It has an important impact on the opinion others form about us and our professional ability. If you want your international business partners to view you as a sophisticated, capable professional, then match their level of formality with your suit.
Do you have a favourite outfit to wear for international business travelling? Leave your comments in the section below.
[Header and images above courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]