Become a Master Networker Using Body Language
Within the first few seconds of meeting someone, most likely you are being sized up. Person A looks at person B and tries to understand something about them. They observe your posture, how you’re dressed, and your body language. Body language is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to networking. Based on your body language, you can invite someone to get to know you further, or completely put them off. As we head off into the Fall conference season, you want to make sure you are not sending a message of being “unapproachable.” Below are a few key tips to remember.
- Posture. Are you leaning against a wall with your arms crossed, as if you’re bored or uninterested? If it seems that you are closed off from others, people will think you are not open to a conversation. Without realizing it, your arms can act as a shield towards others. Make a conscious effort to stand in a position that is open and inviting, rather than blocking people out.
- Eye contact. Do you maintain eye contact throughout the entire conversation when talking to someone? Don’t have wandering eyes. Never allowing your gaze to waver will send a message that you are interested in what they have to say and will let them know that they have your complete attention.
- Facial expressions. Along with maintaining eye contact, make sure you maintain an interested facial expression. What is your facial expression telling the other person – are you showing interested, smiling, or holding back a yawn? Coming across as uninterested is a surefire way to stop a relationship from forming before it even starts.
- Arms and hands. Some people speak with their hands but it can get too much and become a turnoff to the listener. Ensure that your hand gestures match what you are saying – overly large gestures can be distracting. At the same time, no hand gestures send a signal of indifference.
Effective networking is certainly a skill that one cultivates over time. It does not come naturally to everyone and might take a little bit of practice before you are completely comfortable. First impressions are critical and as you meet new people, make a conscious effort to think about your body language and how it comes across to others.