How much does body language when networking matter? Quite a bit! In fact, according to the Professor Albert Mehrabian, more than 50% of information received and transmitted during a conversation is through body language. The exact number might vary from conversation to conversation, but what doesn’t change is the importance of body language in setting the right stage!
Just as your body can betray your excitement in matters, so it can do the opposite in social events. Networking isn’t easy without this complication, but it becomes very difficult to make it work for you, if you can’t control your body language.
So, how should you go about it? Whether your trying to get a job or just meeting with others, the following steps can help:
When you meet with someone face to face, it is imperative that you make eye contact with them. As you speak with them make sure that you maintain the eye contact. This isn’t about staring them down or intimidating the other person. Instead, it is about making them feel that you consider them important. Charismatic leaders and celebs do that and so can you. All you need is a little practice.
The right look
How likely are you to consider a candidate for a job who spends the whole interview looking bored out of their skull? Not much! Then why should the people you are networking with be any different? When conversing with someone, try to look engaged. If the conversation is something that you are naturally interested in, you won’t have to feign interest. If it isn’t, then fake it, add a smile to it, and then deliver the appropriate reaction to what is being said. You can also use your eyebrows to show your reaction.
Crossing your arms in front of yours comes across as a standoffish gesture. When networking, the last thing you want to do is be seen as closing yourself off to people. It will keep other people from coming over and introducing themselves. keep in mind, body language when networking matters.
A good posture
So, now that you know that you should avoid crossing your arms, make eye contact, and look engaged, the next step is your posture. A straight back will keep you from slouching and looking less self-assured than you are! By condensing your body, you will end up looking tentative and less confident of yourself. Before you enter the room of people that you wish to network with, stop to pull your shoulders back and then walk in with a posture that suggests openness and confidence.
Tricky negotiations can become even more complicated when your hands give you away! Watch them when you converse with someone. Are your palms facing up or down? Because the latter suggests a dominant position. It signals to the other person that you are willing to collaborate and find a solution that will benefit both parties. Hand gestures of the other person can also clue you in to what they are really saying. For instance, palms facing upwards while they say this is the best they have to offer is a hint that you can keep on negotiating.
Remember that networking is much a science as anything and that the more you practice, the better you will become. Best of luck!