Body Language When Networking

453 reads

Body language can be a powerful attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others. People assess you visually within the first fewminutes of meeting you.  I’ve been asked a lot about body language by the media over the years.Here are some of their questions along with my answers relating to the use of body language in networking environments.

1.What can you do to increase your confidence? To come off as warm or friendly or knowledgeable to others? 

People over-think this issue.  The answer is pretty straight forward – be more “interested” than “interesting.”   When you are meeting people, practice being an interested interviewer and an active listener.  Learn about them and during the process make sure that your facial expressions match that interest.  Don’t look bored – look engaged.You can do that with a smile, appropriate reaction to a comment, or a few nods (but not like a bobble head doll).  Also, use your eyebrows to show your reaction to comments.  Do this in an authentic way.  If you really show interest in other people, you will be amazed at some of the stories you hear and people you meet.  You will also make a great impression on these individuals.  All of these things will help to make you look warm, friendly, and confident. 

2.What is the latest reputable science saying about hand gestures and how theyeffect the way we're perceived by other people? 

In a study done by Holler and Beatie they found that gestures increase the value of someone’s message by 60%!  They analyzed thousands of hours of TED talks and found one striking pattern.  The most watched TED Talks were done by people who used effective hand gestures.

Specifically, they analyzed the top and bottom Ted Talks and found that the least popular TED Talks used an average of 272 hand gestures during the 18-minutetalk and the most popular TED Talks used an average of 465 hand gestures during their talk – or almost double! 

Remember that hand gestures are good when talking to someone but don’t turn it into “jazz hands” where your hands never stop waiving!Be purposeful with your gestures. 

Also, when doing certain hand gestures, make sure to do them from the listener’s perspective not yours.  For example, if you are talking about the growth of a business, you might naturally do a hand gesture going from your lower left to your upper right.  That looks like growth from your perspective but it would be the opposite from the listener’s perspective.  The same goes regarding a time-line.  For you, the start of a project would be on your left and the end of the project would be to your right.  However, for the listener, your hand gesture should be flipped so that the gesture you are making supports the point you are sharing according to the other person’s perspective.  This is a very subtle technique that can really help in your discussions with people. 

3.We've been hearing about how the so-called "Power Pose" or "Superman Pose" (hands on hips) may not be as effective as research initially showed - is that true? Are there other poses that increase confidence?

The “Power Pose” is great if you are Wonder Woman or Superman.  For mere mortals – not so much.  It just looks theatrical.  Power Posing is a discredited theory of psychology that was based on a 2010 study that has even been refuted by one of the original authors of the paper. 

Instead of “striking a pose” be your best self.  Don’t hunch over or look like a wall-flower, don’t cross your arms, and above all – maintain good eye contact.  Don’t be looking around the room as you are talking to people.  It makes them feel like you don’t care about them.  Remember, be interested and look interested when you are talking to someone. 

4.Personal space is sometimes an issue.  How close should you stand to people when you are talking to them?

The study of proxemics has an application to personal space in a conversation.  Personal space varies by culture however, generally speaking, in North American cultures personal space is roughly “arms-length” away.  Don’t get in someone’s space unless you have a relationship with them that would justify that.  Don’t make people feel uncomfortable by standing too close.  In this day and age – that is particularly important with the opposite gender. 

Body language in networking environments can be very important.  Keep the above points in mind.  Be comfortable and authentic while not trying to overthink the issue.  The key is to practice, practice, practice and observe reactions over time.

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.  He is also the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization.  His new book, Networking for Success (2nd Edition),  is available at bookstores and at Amazon.com.

Trending

213
misner's picture

Dude, Where are my Wheels? Why Networking Helps – Even in the “Hood”

I recently visited Los Angeles and drove through an area that I grew up around.  I was regaling my wife with a story about a job I had in a pretty tough neighborhood when I was in college.  At the end of the story she said, “you have to
264
Harvey Mackay's picture

Resourcefulness = “Of Coursefulness”

A firm needed a researcher. Applicants were a scientist, an engineer and an economist. Each was given a stone, a piece of string and a stopwatch and told to determine a certain building’s height. The scientist went to the rooftop, tied the stone to
316
johnsullivan's picture

Sourcing Is the New Recruiting

I have some excellent news for you. Sourcing is the place to be in talent acquisition today! Recruiting as it has traditionally been known is going away. Increasingly companies are adopting recruitment process automation, and that means that there
368
harvardbusinessreview's picture

How to Prepare for a Panel

Make sure to connect with the moderator beforehand.
351
johnsullivan's picture

HR Roundtable: The Value of a Multi-Generational Workforce

In the classic rock anthem My Generation by The Who, lead singer Roger Daltrey screams, “I hope I die before I get old.” He echoed a sentiment of the times, but he never knew that he was also doing what...
374
adamgrant's picture

Why Women Volunteer for Tasks That Don’t Lead to Promotions

Here’s a work scenario many of us know too well: You are in a meeting and your manager brings up a project that needs to be assigned. It’s not particularly challenging work, but it’s time-consuming, unlikely to drive revenue, and probably won’t be
364
johnsullivan's picture

How Personas Change Sourcing Outcomes

It’s really intimidating to walk into a room full of people you don’t know. We’ve all had that moment of panic, scanning the room for any semi-familiar face and praying it’ll work. Just one person. I personally hate that feeling....
358
adamgrant's picture

This 4-Day Work Week Experiment Went So Well, the Company is Keeping It

A first-of-its-kind four-day work week experiment in New Zealand has come to an end after two months, but the trial went so well the company actually wants to make the changes permanent.While lots of research has shown the numerous benefits a
400
johnsullivan's picture

What’s Wrong With Corporate Culture As A Management Tool? Almost Everything!

The top 15 most damaging shortcomings of managing using your culture It’s no secret that most in HR and many CEOs are enamored with “corporate culture,” which is essentially the “invisible hand” that helps guide the behavior of your employees....