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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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sales skills

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.

Business News

Plant-based milk company Oatly is going public in the U.S.

(BUSINESS NEWS) With the growing popularity of plant-based goods, it is unsurprising to see Oatly going to market, but how much the investment pays off remains to be seen.

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Plant-based milk Oatly on store shelves, two different varieties.

On Tuesday, the plant-based milk company, Oatly, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the U.S., which could value the company between $5 billion and $10 billion.

The IPO will take place after the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) completes its review process and is subject to market conditions. Additional details of the planned sale were not offered in the confidential filing. The price and number of shares available to purchase are yet to be determined.

The Sweden-based vegan food and drink maker was founded in the 1990s by brothers Rickard and Björn Öste. The company sells its products online and in more than 50,000 retail stores in 20 countries across Europe and Asia. The company entered the U.S. in 2017 and has also partnered with cafes, such as Starbucks.

Last July, Oatly raised $200 million in investment equity. The company is backed by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and celebrity investors like Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, and Jay-Z. According to PitchBook, the company was valued at around $2 billion at that time.

In 2019, the company generated about $200 million in revenue, which is almost double the year before. Figures for 2020 haven’t been released yet, but the company planned on doubling them again.

Although the numbers haven’t been made public, it isn’t a far-off stretch to say the company could have done just that. Demand for plant-based products has been high. In just the first week of March last year, Nielsen statistics showed the sales of oat milk were up 347.3%.

This rise is due to consumers seeking alternatives to animal products and healthier food options. Already, fast-food chains, casual, and upscale restaurants have entered the plant-based food sector by adding new plant-based items to their menus.

Burger King has its Impossible Whopper with a plant-based patty. Baskin-Robbins offers three vegan ice cream flavors. Starbucks also announced in December that it would now serve oat milk at all its locations nationwide starting in the spring.

Oatly already has a large following. As more health and environment-conscious consumers are willing to seek and pay for these types of products, it seems like their following will only continue to grow.

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Business News

Fake news? Well, what about fake reviews?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Amazon is swamped with fake reviews, making it harder than ever to trust whether or not a product is legit. How can you spot them and avoid falling victim to this shady practice?

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Person shopping online with credit card, but are they reading fake reviews?

These days, most of us have turned to online shopping in lieu of brick-and-mortar establishments to get our favorite items shipped directly to our front door. With many retailers still closed, and many more of us understandably wary of exposing ourselves to the risk of COVID-19, it’s easier to just click “buy” and then spend the next two days with our noses pressed to our windows in anticipation of the arrival of our new toy or garment. But are we at risk of being tricked by fake reviews?

If you’re like most people, you probably depend on product reviews to make a purchasing decision. Honestly, it’s perfectly reasonable to see what others thought of the item before you buy it. These online reviews are almost like your neighbor, who whipped out his lawnmower and bragged how it goes from 0 to 4 mph in less than thirty seconds. Obviously — obviously — you had to run out to your nearest garden center to pick up one of your own after his glowing review of it, right?

That’s kinda like online reviews, too. You can’t just knock on the purchaser’s door and ask them what they thought of it, which is why you carefully peruse those reviews and weigh those pros and cons. Okay, this shirt fits loose. Fine, these kitchen shears broke after three uses. Whoa, this brand of potato chips puts hair on your chest…? Sweet! And you also probably looked at those 3-star reviews, too, to see what was merely “meh” about the product. With this assortment of mixed reviews, you can be confident that you’re making a rock-solid choice.

Uh, sadly, nope.

Unfortunately, Amazon (as well as other major retailers, such as Walmart) are often fraught with a glut of fake reviews. In fact, there are numerous Facebook pages dedicated to the purchase of these reviews, and many of the reviewers are compensated with a monetary reward (usually the cost of the item, plus a few extra dollars for their work) for posting the glowing 5-star rave.

So what can you do to help protect yourself for falling for these seemingly harmless lies?

Well, first and foremost — a fake review isn’t necessarily harmless. If a defective or dangerous product is boosted by a false review, it can seriously harm you. Sure, there’s a good chance the fake reviews are benign, and the worst you’ll be in for it is losing a few bucks on a crap item. But if something is using counterfeit or unsafe ingredients (such as minoxidil in potato chips because, real talk, chips aren’t supposed to put hair on your chest), then yes, you need to be informed of it so you can make an educated decision about whether or not that item is coming home with you.

So, the question remains: How can you, intrepid shopper extraordinaire, avoid purchasing a lemon? (Unless, of course, your goal was to buy an actual lemon in the first place. Margaritas, anyone?) The good news is that there are a couple things you can do. For starters, common sense goes a long way. Do the reviews offer any context, or is it just line after line of, “Loved it!” without any actual feedback on the item? That’s why those 3-star reviews are so priceless. Usually the reviewer actually used the item and had a valid reason for their tepid review, allowing you to make an educated decision about it.

Finally, there are a couple of websites you can use to help you out. First, there’s Fakespot. This web extension will cull out all the fake reviews, allowing you to see at-a-glance the remaining genuine reviews. It then reviews the item for its credibility, letting you know if the seller was trying to pull a fast one on you. Then there’s ReviewMeta. Unlike Fakespot, this website goes through the views and instead of grading the seller, it actually grades the item based on the average score of the remaining real reviews. And by using both of these websites together to check those reviews? You’ve now got yourself a pretty decent idea if the product is actually worth your hard-earned dollars.

It’s far too easy to get scammed these days. However, by staying alert and remaining mindful about your online purchases (and avoiding the temptation to give into those stress-motivated impulse buys), you can avoid being bilked, too. And hey, instead of looking at online reviews, maybe you should go back to the old-fashioned way of doing it: By asking your neighbor for their opinions of items. Just, y’know, do it from at least six feet away, while wearing a face mask.

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Business News

Manufacturing is bouncing back, but supply of materials is struggling

(BUSINESS NEWS) As manufacturing demands surge, so do material costs. The pandemic has shifted where we’re putting our money, but supply is struggling to keep up.

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Manufacturing worker sealing a large pipe together.

As the United States’ manufacturing process comes back up to speed, a surge in demand is creating a shortage of the one thing manufacturers need in order to do their jobs: Supply.

Fox Business reports that, due to a much quicker return to normalcy for manufacturing than some expected, a price hike for materials is affecting everyone from the bottom up: “Prices for steel, aluminum, lumber and other materials are rising in response to higher order volumes. Commodity supply chains are now clogged with orders, causing some producers to add weekend hours and overtime for employees.”

The fast manufacturing rebound seems to be a harbinger of better days ahead, but this supply bottleneck could dampen producers’ resolve.

It should be noted that the spike in demand for goods which use the materials in question isn’t an entire surprise. As Fox notes, much less of consumer money has been going toward travel and dining out. This has resulted in more money flowing into things like appliances, vehicles, and entertainment commodities.

But the toll is hitting producers coming and going as things like depressed oil and the paper used in packaging undergo substantial price hikes, leading some companies to stockpile resources in hopes of having an edge in the future.

Others find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between lower profit margins or higher prices on manufactured productsa choice that is sure to impact consumers, if not the rate of consumption.

Indeed, some companies, such as Northwest Hardwoods, have an upper limit on the price they can charge on a finished product regardless of rising material costs.

It’s not all bad, of course. Global prices for materials like aluminum and scrap steel have gone up, which means people like Brad Serlinthe president of United Scrap Metalcan make a killing. “We can sell everything we have,” says Serlin, referencing “big orders” from recently busy steel mills.

As the pandemic wears on, though, one thing is crystal clear: The high demand for domestic goods coupled with rising global prices for materials is going to make for some severe price hikes in the coming months.

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