Most of us go to networking events hoping to get new business or at least some new leads. It reminds me of the cave men going out to hunt/kill a dinosaur for dinner. So I view networking as a man’s sport. Get to the event, meet as many people as you can; give out as many of your business cards as you can. It’s a fast sport where you are judged (or judge yourself) by the number of business cards you take home with you (read notches on your belt). However, if you want to be effective, you need to turn a networking event into a woman’s sport where bonding takes place; where quality acquaintances are made through social exchanges; where trust is developed; power is balanced; and ideas and goals are focused.
Yes, this does take verbal communication, but it begins with the far more important nonverbal communication skills (social skills) that you have developed. Here are the 4 to focus on:
- Eye contact. When you make eye contact, you are saying “I see you!” because until you see someone, they feel invisible. When you make eye contact, you are signaling that person that you want to have a communication with him/her.
- Upright posture. When you enter the room, is your head erect, shoulders back? Tilting your head shows friendliness. Is this the message you want to convey?
- Your open and upright posture empowers you.
- Eliminate the bobble head. Women have a tendency to shake their head up and down (bobble head) when listening. This may work fine when a woman talks to another women, but when a woman talks to a man, he assumes that you are agreeing with him and when you don’t, he assumes you are neurotic because you kept shaking your head in agreement.
- Self-adaptors. These are dynamic movements where we touch our hair, clothes, neck as an indicator of concern, uncertainty, nervousness. Use community hands, steepling hands and even humility hands to avoid this. Best body position: the power standing position—head erect, shoulders back, neck muscles relaxed, arms bent at 90 degree angle, hands in front holding a finger or pen, but not a glass, cup or plate, and feet in “A” position.