What’s the appropriate way to dress for a client meeting?
Apparently, there’s a great deal of confusion on this topic. Freelance writer, Jesaka Long, describes an instance on her blog when she attended a client meeting and saw another freelancer at the same meeting in a tee shirt. (Fortunately, Jesaka had the good sense to dress professionally for the meeting.)
We freelance writers enjoy our freedoms–and one of those freedoms is the ability to wear whatever you want when you are working from your home office. You don’t have to look too hard to find tales of freelancers working in pajamas, sweats, shorts, and various other comfortable outfits. (Personally, I favor jeans and a tee shirt.)
However, when it comes how we dress for client meetings, the story should be a little different.
The Importance of a First Impression
If you’re looking for freelance writing job from a corporation you may be called in to the company headquarters for an interview. Even if you are already doing freelance writing for a corporation, you may still need to meet in person with your client from time to time.
What you wear to those meetings IS important–especially if your meeting is the very first one with that particular client. You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
When I was working as a staff technical writer within the corporate fold, I was often asked to be part of a group of writers who conducted peer interviews.
We met face-to-face with those who might potentially join our team. Sometimes the interviews were with writers that we were seeking to hire. Other times, the interviews were with writers who would be working for us as independent contractors. Several times, I met with freelance writers who would be working from home.
In all of that time, I can only remember a few instances when a writer showed up dressed in what I would consider to be completely unacceptable attire for the situation. For the most part, the writer candidates I spoke with adopted the dress code of our company, which was business casual.
Of course, our primary concern during the meetings was assessing the writer’s experience and not their appearance. However, if two candidates had equal experience and one presented a more professional appearance I do believe that it would have made a difference in which one we selected.
Client Meeting Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some mistakes to avoid when dressing for a client meeting:
- Sloppy attire. Even if you are dressed appropriately for the corporate environment, you won’t make a good impression if you’re sloppy. Make sure that your clothes are clean (no stains) and in good repair. If appropriate, iron your outfit before you wear it.
- Not matching the corporate dress code. If at all possible, try to match the dress code of the company where the meeting will be held. Most of the time, you will be okay with business casual, but there are a few companies where more formal attire is expected.
- Skimpy attire. Shorts or short skirts, muscle shirts or plunging necklines–these are almost never appropriate in a business setting. If you want to come across as a professional, you should dress like one.
By showing up to a client meeting in an outfit that’s less than professional you may be unintentionally transmitting a message to the client that you don’t really care about your work.
Do you meet with clients face-to-face? How do you decide what to wear to a client meeting?