Body Language Secrets For People Like Me Who Hate Networking
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Imagine that you are at a
networking event with the intent of doing business with some of the
In your mind, how’s that going
Do you see yourself socializing
with ease and grace, or – if you are anything like me – has the very
word “networking” increased your stress level and sent shivers down
At least that is how I used to
react. I dreaded (and avoided, whenever possible) all networking
Now I look forward to them.
Here are six changes I made in
my body language that morphed my networking experience from frightening
to fun. Maybe they will do the same for you . . .
1. I changed my perspective. It
was a relief when I learned that networking is not about getting new
business (although that certainly can happen). It’s about making
connections and building professional relationships. The minute I took
the focus off myself and put it on others, I relaxed. I stopped selling
and started listening. I also found it helpful to pretend that I was
the host of the event and that my job was to help others have an
enjoyable time. Approaching
people with this attitude immediately resonated in a more positive way.
2. I straightened my posture. I’m a
bit of a posture junkie anyway, but at networking events I found I was
slouching -- and by condensing my body, I looked tentative and less
assured. Now, before I enter the room, I check that my shoulders are
pulled back and that my arms are slightly away from my body – which is
a posture of openness, confidence and self-esteem.
3. I put down my plate. My
default networking behavior was to go directly to the wine and food
stations – so that I would have something to do immediately upon
learned that if I wanted people to see me as comfortable and friendly,
I needed to stop using objects (my drink and plate of food) as physical
barriers. It made me look closed off and resistant. And the minute I
blocking my body (which can also be done with a purse, briefcase, cell
phone, or crossed arms), I looked and felt more open and approachable.
4. I made it a point to touch
everyone I met. I knew that touch was the most primitive and powerful
nonverbal signal. I
knew that we are programmed to feel closer to someone who’s touched us.
(A study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade Shows showed that
people are twice as likely to remember you if you shake hands with
it was difficult to shake hands when clutching that plate of food! Once
I freed my hand, I was able to offer it whenever I introduced myself.
The result was just what
research predicted it would be: people reacted by being more open and
friendly – making engaging them in conversation much easier.
5. I slowed down my smile. I
knew that charismatic people tended to smile more, with that
distinctive crinkling around the eyes that was a sign of genuine
emotion. (Which I thought I was already pretty good at.) But I also
learned that slow onset smiles led to more
positive reactions. So, rather that approaching people with a grin, I
learned to begin with a slight smile and let it grow organically.
6. I ramped up my eye contact.
Looking at someone's eyes transmits energy and indicates interest. I
found that networking events provided a prime opportunity for enhancing
this skill. I made it a practice to notice the eye color of everyone I
met. This meant that I held my gaze just a little bit longer (which
made it feel just a little bit more personal) than usual.
Focus on the other person (make
it about them, not you). Stand tall and let your body show others that
you are confident – which changes your self-perception as well. Open
your body: no barriers, no crossed arms or other defensive postures.
Smile sincerely and slowly. Make positive eye contact. Reach out and
touch someone. It’s not rocket science – but it does have the power to
transform a dreaded networking event into a positive experience!
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, an executive coach and international keynote speaker at
corporate, government, and association events, is the author of "The
Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How
You Lead." To learn more, contact her at Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com,
510-526-1727, or www.CarolKinseyGoman.com. Authors Google+
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2015-05-18 16:37:45 in Personal Articles