Attention vs Approachability

Hi, I’m Bob. Can I be your new
accountant? Hello?

Tim Householder, a friend of mine and owner of Timothy Wells Photography, commented on yesterday’s post over on The Reluctant Networker Facebook page. He made a good point that there may be communities in which being uncomfortably outrageous is the norm. In fact, those who don’t fit that mold would probably be seen as aloof to the other members.

To a certain extent I agree with this. In general, of course, you must know your audience. Know who you are trying to reach (and who will introduce you to that target) and make sure that whatever you do to stand out fits within the boundaries of propriety as defined by both groups. For example, if you want a group of lawyers to introduce you do the accountants they know, you should probably hold off on the rainbow-colored wig and clown nose (unless you are marketing your clown services). Conversely, showing up in a formal conservative power suit when you are trying to connect with a group of artists might not be the best way to go, either.
The other issue to examine is what the ultimate goal is. In this case we are looking at this from the point of view of good networking practice. In that respect, our goal is to be as approachable as possible. We want people to feel completely comfortable walking up to us and starting a conversation. Anything which detracts from that goal doesn’t make for good networking.

Now, those behaviors which exceed good networking aren’t necessarily useless. Being “inappropriately remarkable” can lead to getting attention, which may serve your purposes in other ways. I’m just saying that if your goal is to establish and nurture long-term relationships, the activities you choose should fit into those that your target would find acceptable.

Ultimately, you have to decide how well you want to fit into the mold defined by your target market. At some point you may even be established to the point that you can safely ignore the mores of any given group. Until you reach that point though, remember your probably better off sticking with approachable rather than attention-getting.

Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt


About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at or

One Comment

  1. Total agreement! When I talk with sales people about dress issues, I always tell them to dress for the comfort of the person they are talking to NOT themselves! For example, those dealing with people's money, should dress at levels of conservatism….at least in most instances. I guess if you were going to deal with high net worth clowns, it might be a different story!

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