Networking Like a Pro, Not a Wall Flower
What is the best body language to have when you are at a networking event? A lot of people may have to go to networking events where they are the sole representatives of their companies and do not know anyone over there. You do not want to make a beeline for the buffet or lean against a wall in a corner looking like you wish you weren’t there. Neither should you be going around slapping peoples backs and smiling like a Jack O’Lantern. You need to have a soft smile on your face and look around. See if there is anyone else who is not talking to anyone, walk up to them, and say hello.
While I am not the kind of expert to tell you that if you fold your arms in front of your chest, it means you do not want anyone to talk to you, but let’s be honest: some people may interpret it that way. So try to have open body language with your hands. If you are holding a drink, hold it in your left hand so when you go into shake someone’s hand, your right hand isn’t cold and clammy.
Handshaking etiquettes may vary country to country, but as a general rule of thumb, try to make sure that you are not crushing someone’s hand and neither does your hand feel like a limp fish in theirs. Try to go for something in between. I would recommend you to practice with a family member or a friend you are close with and ask them if you’re doing alright.
The main thing is that when you are at a networking event, you have to act like you are happy to be there among those people. You have to ask people about what they do, be willing to listen to them, and people will automatically start to think that you are fascinating too. When you are talking to someone, make sure that you are looking at them and giving them your full attention and not looking over their shoulder at someone else. I am not telling you to stare them down, but for the most part, talk to one person at a time and give them your full attention. Ask them follow up questions for clarification and act like you’re interested in them, and you will stand out as the most interesting person they have met at the conference.
Never Let These Two Classic Body Language Blunders Slow You Down
There are a couple of big picture body language problems that I need to point out. It may be too obvious for some people but I do want to repeat it. The body language that gets most people in trouble before they even say anything to anyone is when they walk into a room.
There are two big problems anyone can encounter regarding body language. Number 1, if they get uncomfortable, their body tenses up and they hunch over. I am not telling you to have perfect posture as if you are in the military, but you should be wary of rounded shoulders that make you seem as if you want to be left in your own little world. I would recommend for you to practice having an upright posture. You can ask your friends and family to help you in this regard. Even I have had this problem and have combated it by using a little device that I would pin on my shirt and it would vibrate anytime I would hunch over. I am not advocating for or selling anything but the main thing for you is to get your posture right.
The second most important thing is what you have on your face. Many people, when they go to a new workplace with new colleagues, have a completely blank look on their face that makes it look as if they are frowning. While it may be off putting in some places, it may be the opposite in other countries. So you have to look at this and consider it with the filters of what culture you are present in. But the main thing is to appeal to the people you are working with. In many cultures, having a blank look or a frown on your face is going to look like you do not want to be there. A little bit of a smile never hurts, especially if you pass by someone in a hall or see someone in a room. If the smile is pasted on all the time, it makes you look fake and phony. But if you smile at people when you see them, it makes you look human and likable.
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