No matter what industry you’re in, we all know the golden rule: It’s All About Who You Know.
Networking is hugely important for growth in any career path. Being well connected leads to opportunities for growth, advancement, and even mentorship that you may not have had access to otherwise.
The realm of networking may feel intimidating and unattainable for many, so I’m starting a mini series on networking to help eliminate some of the guesswork for you. This month, let’s touch on what I think is the most important part of networking: Body Language.
Networking can be an inherently awkward task, especially for individuals who are not naturally extroverted. Since networking is almost always interactions between relative strangers, first impressions are key, and body language is one of the first things that you’ll be judged on. Here are a few things to keep in mind about your body when you’re making these in person connections:
Make (Reasonable) Eye Contact
When speaking with someone face-to-face, make the effort to look them in the eye. The inability to make eye contact signals deceit or discomfort to others, and that’s absolutely not the impression that you want to make.
Looking someone in the eye makes them feel valued and assures the person that you are speaking to that you are interested. According to Inc. Magazine,
“When you don’t look people in the eye, they are less likely to look at you. And when they stop looking at you, they start thinking about something other than what you’re saying, and when that happens, they stop listening.”
On the same note, make sure that you’re not holding a gaze that is too aggressive; use bodily cues to gauge the level of eye contact you should be making.
Stand Up Straight
If you have a desk job, it’s likely that your posture has suffered a bit over the years. When you’re out at events, be mindful of the slouch. Straighten your spine and push your shoulders back. Good posture signals self assuredness, while a slouch well give off the air of being tentative and unsure.
Uncross Your Arms
This one has been said a million times before, but it’s absolutely relevant enough to be repeated here. It’s even listed as Forbes worst body language mistakes to make. Many times, we will subconsciously cross our arms as a defense mechanism. Crossed arms are a literal barrier that you’re putting between you and the person you’re talking to. When your arms are crossed, you’re letting your companion them know that you’re not comfortable with them, and that’s counterproductive when trying to build a personal connection with someone.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to check back next month to see more tips on networking.