I thought I had really “arrived” on the social networking scene not long ago when I became part of the Facebook crowd – that is, until my grown children and hip friends began making fun of me for being overdressed for the party. I made the social blunder, you see, of pasting in a business portrait of myself wearing – God forbid! – a coat and tie. No, no, no, they all chided, that’s not how people dress on Facebook, like you’re selling insurance or something. I informed them, though, that I’m sticking with the coat and tie because that’s me, that’s the way I dress. Although, I did soften my Facebook page a bit by adding some family photos, grandchildren and so forth.
When I left my corporate job a few years ago I thought I had enough of pin stripe suits, silk ties and French cuffs, so I spent most of the next year knocking around in blue jeans and cowboy boots. It felt good for a while, sort of freeing. Then one day I got all dressed up once again in a coat and tie and headed out the door, not sure where I was going or what I was going to do. I simply knew it was time to go back to work, and for me the first step in doing so was to look like it.
Appearances do matter, but not in the sense of making a fashion statement. Rather, appearances are a form of hospitality, a way of inviting people to be part of our lives just as we would by asking them into our homes for a cup of coffee or a meal. That was the point about my being accused of overdressing on Facebook, which is a place intended for people to appear relaxed so others can see them within the context of their ordinary lives, a place of hospitality where friends invite each other into their virtual homes. So admittedly my coat and tie attire probably does come across a bit stiff within that environment.
On the other hand most days I do wear a coat and tie. It’s the way I dress. For me it is a form of hospitality, a way of letting people know I am open for business and they are invited to come inside. Appearances do matter, whether in business, social networking, or simply being out in public. It is the first impression we give to others about who we are.