A famous study by Albert Mehrabian arrived at the conclusion that only 7% of communication is verbal, the rest is based on tone of voice and visual signals. Whilst this has often been misunderstood and misrepresented, it does make us realise just how mammoth a part, body language plays in our overall communication. And, that’s extremely important when we are trying to grow a business.
As we set of on our networking adventure we often spend so much time wondering on what best to say that we neglect the non verbal part – that can be a deal breaker when aiming to make a positive introduction. Lets’ talk about a few ways you can use your body language to your advantage.
The eyes speak volumes
Holding a person’s gaze displays a deep level of inner confidence. It shows the other party that you are invested in what they have to say – you’re here to share this moment.
Those that don’t quite feel at home, may feel their eyes wonder. This may just be due to the other person finding themselves in an unusual situation – perhaps networking is foreign to them. When you see this, you can work to put them at ease.
It’s key to give your attention and avoid wondering your gaze around the room.
Avoid defensive stances
When we feel threatened we naturally want to close ourselves off. In doing so, we make our bodies as small and compact as possible. You’ll often see this represented as crossing of the arms. We naturally do this to make ourselves feel more comfortable.
Similarly, you’ll notice some people hold both hands together. This signifies the comfort your parents used to give to you as they held your hand walking down the busy street.
If you catch yourself doing this, undo it immediately. You’ll be giving off the wrong impression.
Don't be afraid to take up space
Networking can feel intimidating at first. You may find yourself talking quieter and taking light footsteps as not to attract too much attention. Doing this will likely give a poor show of confidence in whatever it is you are vocalising.
Whilst talking about your business and asking for referrals, be free and in the moment. Try to push passion into your voice and hand movements. Talk loudly – but not over the top that it sounds forced.
By taking up space you are showing a 100% commitment to what you are saying. If you are going in 50% then perhaps you have something mixed in there that you are unsure about?
Be conscious of your facial expressions
Make sure that whilst your acquaintance is speaking, you are not looking distant and thinking in your mind about what you want to say next. As you are listening, it is important to give facial cues as to how you are receiving the other person.
Do this by nodding periodically or smiling at the right moment. This reassures the other person that you are happy to be there. In turn, they’ll open up more and you’ll both enjoy a much more fruitful interaction.