When you meet someone in person, your goal is to create a connection. It's sometimes difficult to do, since you've only just met. However, creating instant chemistry isn't impossible. It takes practice, research and a firm understanding of how your verbal language and your non-verbal language work together to enhance the ease of communication. Many people spend a great deal of time practicing what they intend to say when they meet a business contact for the first time, but it's equally important to practice what your body is going to say as well.
Good body language is crucial because it speaks volumes about who you are and how you are feeling, and it gives the listener clues that factor into their overall first impression. This sort of non-verbal communication comes easy to some people, but most of us have to practice in order to project the right image.
Here are five great body-language techniques you can use during your next interview, networking lunch, or conference:
Use good eye contact. Maintaining good eye contact is really important. If you were talking to someone whose eyes continually scanned the room, looking at everything but you, you'd probably assume that they either weren't listening or that they had something to hide. When meeting someone new, you'll want to make direct eye contact at regular intervals. I'm not recommending that you stare like a maniac, but you should make eye contact around 70 percent of the time. Practice this with your friends and see how their reactions change based on how long you hold the eye contact. It will give you a good idea of how much is just enough.
Sit up straight and lean in slightly. It's important to have good sitting posture if you're seated and conversing. This isn't the time to lean back in your chair with your hands behind your head. Your posture should show that you are tuned in and interested in what the other person has to say. This means that you should sit up straight and lean in slightly. Watch when someone is tuned into a conversation. Without realizing it, they lean in to hear and communicate better. This is the posture you want to have when talking to someone new.
Smile. This is one that many people forget. Even though you may be smiling on the inside, it's important to take it to the next level and actually smile. You can practice this in a mirror to get the hang of a professional smile. Don't get too toothy or use a fake smile. Try for a genuine, confident smile.
Get close, but not too close. When you're standing or sitting in a more informal arrangement, you'll want to pay attention to the distance between you and your contact. During this time, you need to stand close when you're talking, but don't get too close. I think everyone knows someone who always stands too close when talking. It can be so uncomfortable that it makes it hard to focus on what they're saying. It's hard to know exactly how close is too close, but if you see them take a step back, don't attempt to close the distance by taking a step closer.
Nod your head. When someone is speaking for a long time, for example when telling a story or explaining a job opening, it's important to nod your head occasionally. It's a non-verbal cue that lets the speaker know that you're listening and understanding what they are saying. When used together with good eye contact, the contact will feel that you are engaged and connected with the conversation.
Using good body language can help you make the best impression with a new business contact. Of course, you'll have to have the skills and experience needed for the job, but the combination of great verbal and non-verbal communication is the key to standing out and being remembered moving forward.
What body language habits do you find annoying? Which ones do you think help the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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