Puerto Rico, London, Hilton Head . . . those are some of the destinations you may find yourself in for an off-site company meeting or incentive trip. Perhaps your organization books at a less glamorous locale. Regardless, leaving the office doesn’t mean leaving decorum and professionalism behind. Here are some thoughts on how to project your brand to make these events work for you.
In the wardrobe arena, “less is more” takes you far. Try to pack items that easily transition from day into night. “Choose colors that make you radiate and avoid distractions,” says image consultant Joyce Rosenblad of Minneapolis-based True You Consulting. She suggests leaving fashion glasses or accessories behind because they take away from your true essence.
For women, Rosenblad’s must-haves include a pencil skirt in a breathable fabric and a color you love, a skinny pant or go-to trouser, a jacket in a flexible fabric and a couple great mixable accessories.
For gentlemen, Rosenblad says you can’t go wrong with flat-front with no cuffs, a jacket or suit, a couple nice shirts and ties, and one or two pairs of shorts if you are in warmer climes. And men aren’t immune to a woman’s penchant for shoes. Pack a solid pair of dress shoes plus one pair of great casual shoes and a pair of sandals, if weather-appropriate. “Everything should feel like part of who you are and not a uniform,” reminds Rosenblad. If you are ever in doubt about attire, check with the trip planner or with colleagues who have been to this locale before.
Is there a VIP or department head you’d like to meet? Etiquette coach Laura Barclay of Civility & Etiquette Centre of Minneapolis and Tampa suggests you plan ahead for this opportunity and make your move at a reception or meal. Stay professional but use this lower-stress setting to boost your brand within other parts of the company. “Networking can be critical for career advancement and lateral moves within a company,” says Barclay, who advises that you avoid hanging out with your immediate coworkers.
Once you approach people for various conversations, understand and employ handshake basics. Barclay says don’t be a bone-crusher, but suggests a firm handshake, “connecting at the soft fleshy area between the thumb and forefinger, and have three pumps, all while maintaining eye contact.” Getting past the handshake is just the beginning, though.
Off-sites lead to many opportunities to eat and drink with immediate colleagues as well as others around the company, plus vendors and clients. Alcohol is typically a big part of these gatherings. “Remember this is still a business function so avoid excessive drinking, off-color jokes about politics or sex, and bringing uninvited guests,” stresses Barclay.
I can’t emphasize enough that all the years you’ve taken to build your brand and grow credibility within the organization can be wiped out in one night of drunken folly. Have fun, but proceed with discipline within your limits.
A successful off-site meeting may lead to new work once you return to the office. Use time during your trip home to make to-do lists. Does someone want an example of your latest win or perhaps a part of your portfolio that could lead to other projects for you and your team? Whatever the request, jot it down so you’re poised to produce soon after you return.
Have fun and make your next off-site great for your brand.
Roshini Rajkumar is a personal brand strategist and presence engineer. She is host of News and Views with Roshini Rajkumar on WCCO Radio and author of Communicate That! For additional communication tips, visit CommunicateThatBook.com. Interface with Roshini at firstname.lastname@example.org.