Whenever you meet somebody for the first time, most of the time your appearance counts. Obviously, what you should wear depends very much on the circumstances, whether you get invited to a ball game with your boss, or you go to lunch with a potential client or a friend who wants to introduce you to somebody who can put a good word in for you to his boss.
One example of a networking scenario is a job fair, and before attending, you should call whoever is hosting this event and ask what the recommended style of dress is. In most cases, you probably will be expected to wear a suit, but there are some industries in which a more casual style of dress is encouraged. For example, if you are seeking a job teaching an after school program like chess or arts and crafts, a neat but laid back and work-appropriate style would be in order, particularly since much of the people who will surround you on this particular job will be wearing SpongeBob T-shirts, jeans and sneakers. For more professional job fairs, men should wear a nicely fitted suit, a tasteful tie and polished shoes. Women should select a tasteful dress that is black, navy, gray or cream in a shape that fits their body type well. If you wear jewelry, it should not be too gaudy, but a well tailored jacket and a tasteful matching handbag will make for a finished, refined look.
When meeting a well-connected friend for lunch, a man can easily get away with jeans or khakis and a button-down shirt in a well-matched color scheme – one that never fails is brown and blue, for example. To go the extra mile with professionalism, a suit jacket would not be unwelcome. You wouldn’t necessarily need a tie, but a tasteful leather belt with a square buckle and some sleek but unpretentious shoes will put the icing on the cake. A woman will easily make a good impression with a slim pencil skirt and a well-matched, tastefully printed blouse.
When going to the big game with your boss, striking a balance between classy and casual can be a tricky challenge. Sneakers or leather sandals and jeans with a polo shirt will work well for both men and women in this particular environment. The same can be said for the company Fourth of July barbecue, although the big difference is that at this particular function, nobody will look at you cock-eyed if you wear shorts.
The way you look is generally a big part of the way people see you. Therefore, it is always a good idea to choose your wardrobe with as much sense of occasion as you can muster.