Everyone can improve their networking skills
Networking is essential to grow your business. The more people you know, the more resources you have, and the easier it becomes to achieve your business goals. Networking almost always involves meeting people you don’t know or have some familiarity with.
Since the essence of networking is social in nature, you will increase your networking effectiveness by knowing what social cues to look for and how to act through learning about social cues.
1. Adjust your posture
It has been proven that if you stand up straight and push your shoulders back, you will appear more confident. People that network with others will find it easier to talk to you.
2. Mirror body language
Over time, when friends get to know each other well, they tend to adopt similar gestures, language, postures, and even develop similar breathing patterns. You can accelerate your rapport building process by mirroring someone you just met by displaying similar gestures, postures, and breathing patterns as the person with whom you’re speaking to.
This basic technique allows you to build rapport with strangers quickly and encourages them to open up to you. Keep in mind that although the term is called mirroring, you shouldn’t copy their moves exactly as they are doing it; if you do, it will be too obvious and the person will feel that you’re copying them.
The way to do it is to gradually make similar movements as the person with whom you’re focusing on, but delay that movement by a few seconds; if their hand moves to their hips, then slowly move your hand to your hips, etc. You can read up more about this technique by looking up this technique in any Neurolinguistic Programming Guide (NLP).
3. Approach opportunities
If you look around the room at a networking event, there are all kinds of conversations happening. If you’re kind of shy and want an easier way to break into meeting strangers, look for people that are bored. You’ll often see people on their cell phone, but when you see someone on their phone at a networking event, this usually means they are bored. If they had something better to do they wouldn’t be on their cell phone during the event, so you will typically have a warm reception if you talk to people like this.
You can also look for other kinds of approach opportunities such as ‘approach invitations.’ At a networking event, almost anyone that will make eye contact with you is open and interested in having you involved in their conversation. When people are strongly engaged and interested in what’s going on in front of them, they don’t look around. If someone you want to talk to is already in a group but makes eye contact, they are bored and/or want you to come into their circle. If you break into their circle, make sure to acknowledge the person that made eye contact with you first, and you will be easily welcomed by the group that you approached.
A great smile goes a long way. Not only will it help calm any nerves you may have about networking and dealing with lots of people at one time, it also makes you appear friendly and approachable. Have you ever had someone smile and approach you for a handshake versus someone with a smug expression approach you and shake your hand?
People usually find someone smiling to be much more friendly than those who aren’t, and people tend to do more business with people they like. The more you smile, you will also get more frequent approach invitations, and direct eye contact from others – just watch for this effect to happen to you.
5. The exit assist
Have you ever gotten caught in one of those long conversations that you can’t get out of? Maybe you don’t want to be rude, so you don’t tell the person you’re talking to that you’d like to leave and stop talking to them?
If you are ever stuck in a non-beneficial conversation but you don’t have the power to excuse yourself verbally, try turning your shoulders, pelvis, and feet slowly away from the person you’re talking to. You can keep your head pointed towards them during the first half of this maneuver. Turn your body in such a way to where it looks like you’re starting to actually leave.
Eventually, you’ll notice that because your body is turned so much away from the person you are talking to, that it will make it awkward and challenging for this person to continue to talk to you. Eventually the person will stop talking and let you get a word in. At this point you can interject that you do have to go and you’ll be able to leave the conversation without feeling that you’ve been overly rude.