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Get infinitely better at networking by knowing these 5 social cues

Five tips: looking for social cues to help increase your networking effectiveness.

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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.

4. Smile

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.

Matthew Winters is the owner of Austin Visuals 3D Animation Studio , a Full-Service 2D & 3D animation studio, advertising agency, and video production studio. As one of Austin's movers and shakers, he also founded Speed Friending Events which produces networking mixers and social events in over 14 cities nationally. Matthew is dedicated to providing solutions to social and technology related issues in the industry.

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Business News

Keep your company’s operations lean by following these proven strategies

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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How to apply to be on a Board of Directors

(BUSINESS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Average age of successful startup founders is 45, but stop stereotyping

(BUSINESS) Our culture glorifies (yet condemns?) startup founders as rich 20-somethings in hoodies, but some are a totally different type.

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startup founders average age is 45

There’s a common misconception that startups are riddled with semi-nerdy, 20-something white dudes who do nothing but sip Nitro Brews and walk around the open office showing off the hoodie they wore yesterday. It turns out that it’s extremely rare that startup offices resemble The Social Network.

However, the academic backdrop for the real social network story (AKA Harvard), produced statistics that will serve to put the aforementioned misconception to rest. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average age of people who founded the highest-growth startups is 45. Say what?! A full-fledged adult?!

In fact, aside from the age category of 60 and over, ages 29 and younger were the smallest group of founders that are responsible for heading the highest-growth startups. I guess you can accomplish a lot when you’re not riding around the office on a scooter all day.

The study also found that older entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed. The probability of extreme startup success rises with age, at least until the late 50s. It was found that work experience plays an important role.

Many will argue, “Well, what about someone like Steve Jobs?” You could easily argue right back that it took Jobs until the age of 52 to create Apple’s most profitable product – the iPhone.

The study continues to answer questions like, why do Venture Capitalist investors bet on young founders? This goes back to the misconception at the start, and there’s a notion that youth is the key for successful entrepreneurship. Wrong.

There is also the idea that younger entrepreneurs are likely working with less financial options, so it may be common for them to take something from a VC at a lower price. As a result, they could be viewed as more of a bargain than older founders.

“The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders,” writes Pierre Azoulay, et al. “For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.”

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