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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.

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Business News

Corporate-franchise relationships: How has COVID affected them?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Being a part of a franchise has made sense for a long time for both the corporation and the franchisee, but the long stretch of COVID is adding complications.

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A franchise cup on a wooden table.

Americans love a franchise. We love knowing that every Dunkin Donuts iced coffee will taste the same as it did 3 states away – and every McDonald’s snack wrap will meet our expectations.

Franchises rose in popularity after World War II, and the corporate-franchise relationship since has generally been a happy one – that is, until COVID-19.

What’s their relationship?

Franchises are easier to start than a small business from scratch. You receive a business playbook and brand loyalty from corporate – if the business at large is doing well, chances are your franchise will mirror that. No need for independent advertising!

From the franchises, corporate gets an upfront fee and ongoing royalties. (For a McDonalds franchise, that’s $45k and 4% of monthly gross sales, respectively.)

Basically, it’s win-win. Both parties are happy.

Pandemic strain

The pandemic has shrunk margins across most industries, and the chain hotels, restaurants and services have been hit hard. As a result, corporate is adding more costs for franchisees, such as big cleaning bills and promotional discounts to bring back some revenue during COVID.

However, with corporate still taking the same amount from the franchises every month, these newly instated policies threaten to drive some stores into the ground – and franchisees are fighting back.

“I get that franchising isn’t a democracy,” said a Subway franchisee, who objected to the unprofitable “2-Subs-for-$10” promotion that corporate was pushing for. “But at the same time, it’s not a dictatorship.”

What I see here is corporate greed at work; they need to keep their margins up in a sinking economy, so they’re looking to the pockets of their franchisees to make up for that lost dough.

The pandemic has not been easy on any business (with the exception, of course, of Amazon, Facebook, and Tesla, which is a whole other story). However, that’s the draw of being connected to corporate – you are tied to something bigger than your individual store, and will thus stay afloat as long as they do. It’s a big reason why many opt for starting a franchise as opposed to starting their own, independent small business.

I’m glad to see individuals fighting back against corporate policies that don’t benefit them. They held up their side of the bargain – let’s see if corporate can continue to hold up theirs.

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Business News

What to do if you think you have been wrongfully terminated

(BUSINESS NEWS) Being fired hurts, but especially if you were wrongfully terminated. Here is what you can do if you need to take action.

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Stressed man staring at computer after being wrongfully terminated.

While there are plenty of ways an employer can legally fire an employee, there’s also a long list of unethical and illegal methods. If you suspect you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job, it’s imperative that you fight back.

Common Signs of Wrongful Termination

Research shows that around 150,000 people are unjustly fired every year in the United States. That’s more than 410 people per day – roughly 17 people per hour. Here are some common signs that you’re a victim:

  • Violation of written rules or promises. The vast majority of employment is known as “at-will” employment. This means you may be fired at any time for any reason (so long as the reason is not illegal). However, if there’s a written statement or contract that implies job security, then you’re probably not an at-will employee. Review all of your employment documents to see what sort of language exists around the topic of termination.
  • Discrimination. It doesn’t matter if you’re an at-will employee or not, employers can never fire someone based on discrimination. It’s illegal – point blank, period. If you suspect you’ve been fired because of your color, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or pregnancy, discrimination could be to blame.
  • Breach of good faith. Employers are known to breach good faith when they do things like mislead employees regarding their chances for promotions; fabricate reasons for firing; transfer or fire an employee to prevent the collection of sales commissions; and other similar situations.

Every situation is different, but these three signs are clear indicators that you have a potential wrongful termination claim. How you proceed will determine what happens next.

How to Respond to a Wrongful Termination

Emotions tend to run high when you’re fired from a job. Whether you loved the job or not, it’s totally normal to run a little hot under the collar upon being wrongfully terminated. But how you handle the first several hours and days will determine a lot about how this situation unfolds. Now is not the time to fly off the handle and say or do something you’ll regret. Instead, take a diplomatic response that includes steps like:

1. Gather Evidence

Wrongful termination cases are usually more complicated than they first appear on the surface. It’s important that you focus on gathering as much evidence as you possibly can. Any information or documentation you collect will increase your chances for a successful outcome. This may include emails, screenshots, written contracts and documentation, voicemails, text messages, and/or statements from coworkers.

On a related note, remember that your former employer will be doing the same thing (if a claim is brought). Be on your best behavior and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Avoid venting to coworkers or firing off short, snappy emails to your former boss. As the saying goes, anything you say or do can and will be used against you.

2. Hire an Attorney

Don’t try to handle your wrongful termination case on your own. Hire an experienced lawyer who specializes in situations like yours. This will give you a much better chance of obtaining a successful outcome.

3. Get Legal Funding

If you’re like most victims of wrongful termination, you find yourself with no immediate source of income. This can make it difficult to pay your bills and stay financially solvent in the short term. An employment lawsuit loan could help bridge the gap.

As Upfit Legal Funding explains, “Wrongful termination lawsuit loans provide the necessary financial assistance they need to reach a settlement. This funding helps cover basic living costs until the plaintiff is able to get assistance from their settlement.”

The best thing about these loans is that you only have to repay them if there’s a successful outcome. In other words, if the claim gets thrown out or denied, you owe nothing.

4. File the Proper Paperwork

Work closely with your attorney to make sure that your complaints and claims are filed with the appropriate regulatory agencies (and that you meet the required deadlines). Depending on the type of claim, there are different groups that oversee the complaint and can help you move in the proper direction.

Adding it All Up

Getting fired is serious business. And while there are plenty of legal reasons for being terminated from a job, it’s worth exploring what’s actually going on behind the scenes. If it’s found that your employer stepped out of line, you’ll be compensated in an appropriate manner. This won’t typically help you get your job back, but it can provide some financial rectification.

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Business News

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but sometimes things can go south – here’s how to escape when they do.

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45-minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well, and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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