You know that networking is important to your career. But did you know that the body language you project when meeting new professionals is as important as meeting them in the first place? If you can master appropriate body language when you’re networking, you will find that you’re making better connections for your career. Here are some aspects of body language that you should be aware of when you’re in the networking process.
Maintain appropriate eye contact.
Eye contact is important for interpersonal communication. It’s how we learn to understand one another, and how we gauge whether or not someone is honest or trustworthy. But eye contact can be challenging for some people, so it is equally as important to know how to use it and in what context. Don’t stare, but be casual and look them in the eye in a natural way.
Be relaxed when standing or sitting.
At most networking events, you’ll find yourself standing but there may be occasions when you’re sitting as well. The most important thing is to be relaxed while you’re communicating with someone else. Don’t cross your arms, because that indicates you’re closed off. Don’t fidget, because that demonstrates nervousness. Don’t spread out too far because that indicates arrogance and ownership.
Walk with purpose.
Look up, be confident, and be comfortable. The way you walk says just as much about you as your body language when sitting or standing. Shuffling is a sign that you’re uncomfortable. Being pushy will also send the wrong message. Walk with confidence and an easy stride and you’ll send the right message. You want your energy to be the focus.
Practice good posture.
Your teachers were right, it is important to stand up or sit up straight. Keeping your spine straight and avoiding a slouch will send the message that you’re confident and you want to engage with others around you. Posture is a big part of how we judge each other’s body language, so pay special attention to how you’re sitting or standing.
Focus on that handshake.
Finally, it is important to make sure that you have a firm handshake. It is perfectly okay to practice ahead of time. It can be difficult to avoid sweaty palms when you’re nervous, but do what you can to make yourself feel at ease in public spaces. Don’t let your hand be the dead fish grip that everyone dreads. Grasp firmly, but don’t squeeze hard, and know when to let go.