(Net)work smart, not hard

Networking is a stressful part of any event. However, there are ways to ease your anxiety about it and capitalize on the opportunities that are in front of you. We have compiled a list of the most effective ways to communicate with others and we hope that you’ll apply these great tips to all areas of your life.

Body Language

Looking at a sea of people is intimidating! Who do you go talk to? Are they approachable? Will you be able to hold a conversation with them? Of course you will! That is – IF you pay attention to their body language. Groups of people standing close to each other and making lots of eye contact are going to look like fun, but should be shied away from.

You should look for the groups with people who are standing in a casual stance, with lots of space between them. These conversations are going to be the more easy going ones and the group is obviously not as tight knit as others so you don’t have to worry about intruding on a laugh about an inside joke or something of the like. Look for a group that isn’t clicking and jump start the conversation! You’ll be the life of the party!

Also, look for approval in the eyes of participants. Welcoming groups will make eye contact as you approach and most likely greet you with a warm smile. Two people standing next to each other but facing outwards is another good thing to look for if you’re searching for a group to chat with. Their body language shows that they’re willing to accept new members into their conversation and would be happy for you to join them.

Photo: Courtesty of calrec.com

To Do and NOT To Do

Do:

Have topics prepared beforehand so conversation can be started easily and fluidly

Watch body language and facial expressions to gauge interest and appeal

Help others by watching for opportunities to invite others in and introduce them to the group

Keep your hands (or at least one hand) free so that you can shake hands and hand out business cards to others

Don’t:

Base your success on things like the number of business cards you collected or the number of hands you shook

Disengage from the conversation at hand by looking over your shoulder or the shoulder of the person who is talking

Fake your level of intelligence to appear smarter or more professional – just be yourself!

Talk in a loud voice to show your power or influence

Show Interest

The best way to attract a conversation is to be open to one. This goes hand in hand with body language, but it has it’s own importance as well. Make sure you’re engaged in the conversation and you’re listening to what people have to say. It’s also a good rule of thumb to present yourself in an approachable way. Be confident, but remember to keep an easy-going mentality as well. Nod your head, offer short responses such as “Really?” and “I agree,” give assurance and comfort to the person talking. Also, your eyes and eyebrows show your interest best so enjoy yourself and let your face do the talking.

cocktail party

Photo: Courtesty linkedin.com

We hope these things will help you better network in the future! Little changes can make a world of difference when it comes to striking up a conversation with a new acquaintance. So give it a try and see how much your communication skills will improve with these simple hints!

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