Networking is one of the best ways to land new business. While you probably have some of the basics down, the following are a few hacks to take your professional networking to an entirely new level. They involve understanding some basic body language cues and the psychology of human behavior.
1. Are you interrupting?
Walking into an ongoing conversation is a tricky maneuver. How can you truly know when it’s the right moment to join in, or if you’re merely a third wheel? Here’s how body language can be your guiding star:
- Space and Proximity: According to research from Hall’s Proxemics Theory (1966), the distance people maintain is indicative of their relational comfort. If two people are deeply engrossed, they might stand closer together. Be mindful of the space; if they’re closer than arm’s length, they might be in a more intimate conversation.
- Vocal Pitch and Speed: Albert Mehrabian’s communication research suggests that only 7% of our communication is the actual words we use, while our tone of voice and body language comprise the rest. Notice if their tone becomes higher (potentially indicating discomfort) or if they start speaking faster when you approach, signaling they want to finish quickly.
2. Are you memorable?
Ever wondered why some interactions leave an indelible mark while others fade away? It’s not just about what you say, but also when you say it. Harnessing a psychological phenomenon can be your key to standing out in a sea of conversations:
- Storytelling: Chip and Dan Heath, authors of “Made to Stick,” highlight the enduring power of stories. Incorporate personal anecdotes related to finance or client successes. This not only creates a memorable interaction but also humanizes you in a predominantly numbers-driven profession.
- Utilize the Peak-End Rule: Research by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman suggests people remember the peak (most emotionally intense point) and the end of an experience most vividly. Frame your conversation in such a way that the most important or engaging part is at the peak and end it on a high note.
3. Are you likable?
First impressions matter, but creating lasting ones requires more than just a firm handshake or a bright smile. In the realm of networking, it’s the genuine connections that truly make a difference. So, how can you swiftly strike a chord with someone you’ve just met? Dive into the art of genuine appreciation:
- Mimicry and Mirroring: Tanya Chartrand and John Bargh (1999) found that subtly mimicking the body language of the person you’re speaking to can increase likability. This subconscious mirroring can help establish rapport faster.
- Show Vulnerability: Dr. Brené Brown’s extensive research on vulnerability highlights its power in building connections. Sharing a slight challenge you’re having or a lesson learned in your career can make you seem more human and relatable.
- Offer 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.”
As always, it’s crucial to ensure that these tips align with your authentic self. People are good at detecting when someone is being inauthentic, and trust is essential in the finance world. Using these hacks genuinely can set you apart in a crowded networking space.