Body Language Can Be the Silent Killer of Conversations

Body language can be an extremely powerful or attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others.  Could you be unknowingly undermining your networking efforts through your body language?

Here’s a good experiment to implement, sooner rather than later.  The next time you’re out networking, take along a trusted friend and have him observe your body language.  Here are several things you can ask him to focus on regarding your performance at this event:

  • Eye contact.  Are you making good eye contact throughout the conversation?  Or are you looking behind the person to see who else is at the event?
  • Arm movement.  What are your arms doing?  Are they folded (“I’m bored”) or tucked behind your back (“I’m interested”)?
  • Positioning.  Are you standing in a manner that is open and welcoming, or blocking people out of your conversation?  Are you leaning on something, as if bored or tired?  Are you unable to shake hands because you’re juggling  a plateful of food?
  • Facial expressions.  Are you smiling, or holding back a yawn?  Are you showing interest?  What does your face say?

Take time to discuss your friend’s observations and reactions.  Listen to the feedback, become more aware, and make adjustments accordingly.  Our body language is primarily subconscious–we’re usually not aware of it, or the hidden messages it sends.  That’s why we need the help of someone we trust to give us honest feedback.

People check you out visually within the first seven seconds of meeting you.  With that in mind, try these two actions in the next few weeks to help ensure that you are making positive and powerful first impressions:

  1. Look in the mirror before leaving the house and ask yourself, “What message am I sending to those who are meeting me for the first time?  What opinions will they have of me before I even open my mouth?”
  2. Become more aware of your body language by getting feedback.  What are you saying without speaking a word?  Take someone with you to your next networking function and ask them to provide honest, direct feedback on your body language.

After you’ve taken these actions, please come back and leave a comment sharing what important things you learned–we’d all like to hear your thoughts!

Want to Achieve Networking Success with the Opposite Sex?–Advice for Women & Men

Last week I posted a summary of the conclusions my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I came to after surveying over 12,000 people and conducting months of research.  I promised that this week I would post advice for both women and men in achieving networking success with the opposite sex so below I’ve outlined some key tips Frank De Raffele, Hazel Walker, and I put together.

We Say . . .

We’re all trying to get to the same place.  It will be much more profitable for all of us if we can help each other along the way.  Here are a few things to guide your success in networking with the complementary gender:

For the Ladies

  • Don’t get stuck in the credibility phase of the VCP Process®.  Ask for what you want.
  • When asking for help, communicate clearly exactly what it is that you want.
  • Make time for networking.
  • When speaking to men, try to impress them and share your accomplishments.
  • When spoken to inappropriately, speak up about it immediately.
  • Dress for business at business events.
  • Put systems in place to track your business.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Diversify your networks.
  • Remember that networking is ultimately about getting business, so ask for both business and referrals.
  • Convey an image to others that you are a serious businessperson, in all that you do.
  • Get educated about referral systems.
  • Don’t lump all men into the same group.

For the Guys

  • Slow down and build the relationship.
  • Work through the VCP Process® in the proper order of its phases.  Don’t race through the credibility phase.
  • Make and maintain eye contact.
  • Listen and ask relational questions.
  • Don’t assume that women don’t take their business seriously.
  • Don’t hit on women at networking events.
  • Edit what you are about to say, using filters to sift out what is not business appropriate.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Stay informed about the best, most current, and cutting-edge networking practices.
  • Develop and use systems for your networking activities.
  • Make time for networking.
  • Speak to relate, not just to impress.
  • Remember that women are at networking events for business gain, just as you are.

The difference between the genders when it comes to networking is a great advantage, not a disadvantage.  By following the tips we have outlined above, you should be able to develop more productive relationships with members of both sexes.  Also, be sure to visit www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com if you would like to follow the latest developments on the subject of business networking and the genders.

What Richard Branson Can Teach You about Networking

I recently had a phone conversation with someone who was asking me about the importance of eye contact when networking.  I answered his question with an interesting story about Richard Branson and I’d like to share that story with you here because I think it demonstrates a point that’s definitely worth remembering.

One of the many intriguing things about Richard Branson is that he has this laser-focus eye contact.  When he is talking to you, he’s not looking to his left, looking to his right, or anywhere else other than directly at you–he gives you his full attention.

I remember talking with Richard, one time in particular, about kids and raising kids.  I was telling him about my son, Trey, who was fifteen at the time and very sharp but not as committed to school as he could be.

Six months later, I saw Richard at a party and introduced him to my son.  Branson remembered who Trey was from our previous conversation, and I have this photograph of him, where he has this laser eye contact with my son (see picture at right), and he kept that laser eye contact with Trey for three or four minutes straight while he was talking to him. All these people were around, vying for Branson’s attention, but he was completely focused on my son during their conversation. Branson wasn’t intense in terms of his speaking—he was actually very relaxed—but he was impressively intense in his focus. The only person in that room, during that three or four-minute time span, was my son. Here’s a guy who never went to college, and he was telling my son. “Go to college. I spoke to your dad! You can do better. I have faith in you!”

Now, keep in mind, Trey doesn’t get impressed by anybody (or at least, like a typical teenager, he certainly doesn’t make a habit of showing that he’s impressed–if you have teenagers, I’m sure you’re more than used to being responded to with a shrug, a bored expression, and the words “it was okay,” or “yeah, (so and so) was cool, I guess . . .”   ;-)) .  Actually, I don’t think my son even understood who Branson was at the time of their conversation but I asked him afterward, “What did you think of that conversation?”  His very uncharacteristic response was, “That was amazing!”  I’m more than confident that what really did it for Trey, what really impressed him, was how, for those few minutes, he had Branson’s undivided attention.

I’ve had a chance to see Branson several times now, and he’s just a master at giving people his undivided attention. After his conversation with Trey, when he moved to the next person, the next conversation, he gave that person his undivided attention.

The thing is, giving people your undivided attention is one of the most important things you can do in order to become a master networker, and making a concentrated effort to maintain eye contact when engaging a conversation is imperative in order to demonstrate to somebody that they are receiving your undivided attention.

So, the next time you’re networking with someone and distractions surrounding you are tempting your eyes to stray from the person you’re speaking with, think of Richard Branson and remember to keep a laser focus on the person and conversation at hand–it’s one of the things that will make you a true master.

Do you have an interesting experience about networking and eye contact?  If so, share it here.

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