As in-person events resurface, we wanted to share three tips to knock off the networking rust. The best part? You can implement them immediately! They involve understanding some basic body language cues and the psychology of human behavior. Here are our suggestions:
- Look at Feet
Approaching two people in conversation can be nerve-racking. You are basically interrupting and sometimes it’s hard to tell if the people in conversation are welcoming you or want you to beat it. Here’s where a simple body language cue can make a big difference.
When approaching two people who are having a conversation, pay attention to the way they position their body. In particular, glance at their feet. If they turn their feet toward you and open up the floor, they want you to join. If they only turn their torso toward you, they don’t want you to join the conversation.
- Avoid the Middle
When you want to make a memorable impression, take advantage of the Serial Position Effect.
The Serial Position Effect is a term coined by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. Through his studies, he found that people have a tendency to remember the first (primacy) and last (recency) things to occur, and scarcely the middle. The graph below demonstrates the Serial Position Effect in recalling a list of words.
However, this psychological effect can be applied to many things—from job interviews to television commercials.
During your next networking function, approach strategic prospects either at the beginning or end of the networking event. They are much more likely to remember you and recall the conversation. If you want to be remembered, don’t be in the middle! This will make your follow-up much easier.
- Give a Compliment
When meeting someone new, your objective is to build rapport and to be likable. There are a lot of factors that impact your likability, but one way to accelerate this process is through giving compliments. According to a study by Professor Norihiro Sadato of Japan, a leading researcher on the psychology of compliments, “receiving a compliment is as much a social reward as receiving money.” Yes, money!
During your next networking event, work a genuine compliment into each conversation. Maybe it’s a great pair of shoes, a tie or their kids—just keep it genuine. We live in a world filled with criticism and everyone appreciates a genuine compliment.
Kevin Nichols is a partner with Oechsli, a firm that specializes in research, training and creative services for the financial services industry. @KevinANichols www.oechsli.com