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4 Tips for Mastering Body Language in Business Networking

When you an​alyse communication between people, non verbal communication is the single biggest piece of that pie, which means it is one of the most important skills to master when networking.

One of the benefits of networking with people face-to-face vs. online is that you can see their reactions and get a "read" on them.

At the same time, they can do the same with you. On the plus side, you can convey your interest and genuineness more easily.

On the downside, you have to be more aware than ever about your body language and expressions.

Here are four of the most important components of body language that you need to pay attention to:

1. Your posture

The way you stand can communicate how open you are to being approached, your energy level, your professionalism, and even the way you were brought up.

Didn’t your mother ever tell you stand up straight? Mine did!

Make sure you do stand up straight, but not as if you’re in the military. You want to appear open and friendly, not rigid and formal. Before you go to meetings was you are dressed and ready to go check your posture in the mirror.

If you slouch, you may look tired, disinterested or unenthusiastic. Find a happy medium where you stand up straight with your shoulders back, far enough away from the other person to allow personal space, and with a sense of energy.

When you are seated at a meeting make sure you are not slouching while sitting.  You want to be engaging while sitting with others.  Slouching will send that disinterested message.

2. Arm movement

Gestures and where you put your hands when you’re not using them are both elements of body language that communicate different things. This is another one things to practice in front of the mirror or video camera.

business networking

Waving your arms around while you talk may seem to portray excitement, but it can also be distracting. You want to make sure people are focused on you not your arms!

Putting your hands in your back pockets may be more casual and comfortable, but it can also look unprofessional.

Crossing your arms is also a big no-no in many circles since it communicates a resistance to new ideas or putting up a barrier between you and the people you are talking to.

You may be completely unaware of your common gestures, so ask a friend to pay attention to them during a practice conversation.

3. Facial expressions

People will be looking at your face more than anywhere else, so be careful of your facial expressions.

If you frown at what someone is saying, they will immediately assume you disagree or disapprove. Try not to frown and keep a positive mental attitude so you can come across positive with the people you talk to.

Worse, someone may capture that on camera or see it from across the room. This sends the wrong message and you want to be seen as somebody who is positive and uplifting to talk with.

Keeping a slight smile on your face is a good habit to practice no matter what situation you’re in. It makes you look warm and friendly – like someone that others would like to meet.

4. Eye contact

If there is no other body language you focus on, it should be eye contact.

The best networkers use their eyes to communicate the feeling that you are the person they are most interested in at that moment.

And never let your eyes drift to other people in the room, as if you’re looking for someone better to talk to. Don't look around at other people or objects while you are talking with somebody.

network marketing

Practice having a conversation with a friend, preferably in a room full of people, and ask them for feedback afterwards on what your eye contact felt like.

Did they feel as if you were not fully engaged? Did they feel like you were “staring them down”?

Now go stand in front of a mirror and practice having a conversation with an imaginary person. Alternatively, video yourself and check what you are doing when you are talking.

Answer and ask questions you might normally talk about in a networking event.

As you talk, pay attention to your body language and what you need to work on.

Over to You

This is the face to face piece that follwos on from my previous article on your social media profiles. So do you go to live networking events?  If you do, what do you find the most important things you need to do to build relationships?  Leave a comment!

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I am a marketer and social media consultant passionate about helping people development themselves and their business. I believe everybody has it in them to succeed at their passion regardless if that is through a Direct Sales Opportunity or a brick and mortar business. Either way I love to see people be successful and I like to take the mystery out of the social media and getting discovered on the internet.
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34 thoughts on “4 Tips for Mastering Body Language in Business Networking

  1. Some excellent observations there Andy – it is always interesting watching two people having a conversation and observing their reactions at various times – I do this at shows watching my partner talking with customers and you can ‘see’ the internal reactions to the conversation as it progresses.
    I always try to focus on eye contact, listening and a positive smile and subtle nods to make the person relaxed and that I am engaged with their words.
    And I so agree about the whole Posture element, as in standing and in your Presence in the room.
    Cool points, thanks
    Jacs 🙂
    Jacs Henderson recently posted…Revive Old Post… Tweet Old Post Has Grown Up!My Profile

    1. Jacs, thanks for your comments, people watching is always interesting, have a great weekend.

  2. Hey Andy,

    Body language is very important when it comes to approaching someone offline. It will let you determine if the other person is worth your time or not. This is something I need to work on myself because I know when people come talk to me at times, I appear to be more non-chalant. But for some reason when I’m at a dinner table, I appear more attentive. But yes, body language matters a whole lot! Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great weekend!
    sherman smith recently posted…Why You’re Not Generating Traffic From Your Target MarketMy Profile

    1. Have a great weekend, the body language can make a big difference in any meeting

  3. I really enjoyed this article and what I mostly appreciated about it was the suggestions and recommendations you gave to help us with better communication. I also tend to suggest a technique called “mirroring” that helps establish a good repo ire as well.

  4. Hey Andy

    This was a very intriguing, interesting AND informative read. My mom always corrects my posture because I tend to slouch, which is horrible because – even if I am thoroughly interested in a conversation – my posture implies the exact opposite 🙁

    And I have a huge problem meeting someone’s eye while talking. My orbs constantly drift around a room, which is obviously a manifestation of my insecurity.

    Thank you for reminding us of these VERY important communication tips #HUGSSSSS

    BEST wishes
    Kitto

  5. Hey Andy,
    I enjoyed your article. Your posture can certainly make a great impression or the opposite – you can be totally misunderstood. So, it’s a good reminder not only for business, but also for life.

    Thanks!
    Ligia

  6. A great post Andy!

    I guess with the age of the internet and so many emails, messages, videos flying around, a lot have forgotten the art of ‘reading body language’ and also practising their own!

    An informative post that I have bookmarked to remind me to pass this info on to my team 🙂
    Sonia recently posted…Pinterest Videos & ImagesMy Profile

  7. Hi Andy, very interesting article here.

    It’s funny what you should say about facial expressions. I’m not very aware of them or at least up until recently. I was talking to a colleague a few weeks ago and I happened to catch my face in the mirror. It certainly was not matching what I was saying!

    It’s made me very aware now, and especially since I’ve been doing some public speaking – I’m a little paranoid now! 🙂

    I have to remember to smile.
    Chelsea Louise Haden recently posted…How to Generate Blog Content in 6 Super WaysMy Profile

  8. Excellent post Andy!

    All four tips were definitely spot on! I especially like you sage advice in tip # four.

    You say not to let your eyes wander the room, as you speak with someone in person.

    That definitely sounds like winning advice! Great job!
    Mark recently posted…How The Ultimate Insiders Use Incentive Programs To Drive Your Competitors Crazy!My Profile

  9. Excellent points, Andy. As an introvert, I sometimes find it hard to maintain eye contact, but I’m well aware of the need for it, so I do work on it.

    “Keeping a slight smile on your face is a good habit to practice no matter what situation you’re in.” This made me smile! I thought I *did* have a slight smile on my face, just enough to soften my expression, when they took my photo for my passport and for my driver’s license. But when I saw the final results, my face was so not smiling that I thought I looked like a witch!
    Willena Flewelling (@WillenaRose) recently posted…Baby StepsMy Profile

  10. Excellent advice Andy! When I first went into sales (in another life!) the hotel company I worked for was BIG on innovative training and believe me it was not for the faint of heart! To use a networking example – they’d put 6 to 8 managers in small groups as a pretend networking situation. Then the leader (always a high level sales exec rather than HR trainer – just to make it even more intimidating!) would select one of us to represent a make believe product (yet again boosting the stress level) and the others would be turned loose and told to use their imaginations to “test” the manager on the spot. So one of them might tell you he hated your product and while everyone looked on you’d have to turn the situation around while you were being judged for everything from body language to how creative you were at turning a negative into a positive, and overall how you handled yourself under pressure. While this type of training may seem brutal to some, it taught us to be more confident and poised even under the most challenging situations. Thanks for the great read and tips Andy!
    Marquita Herald recently posted…A Single Risk Can Open a World of PossibilitiesMy Profile

  11. Hi Andy,

    There is so much revealed through body language. When talking to someone, even on camera, we have to look at them right in the eye. When on camera, I look straight forward.

    When it comes to hand movements, I have to be very self-aware. I’m Italian and talk with my hands. No joke…I really do. So when I’m talking to someone I ether sit on my hands or squeeze tightly on the arm of a chair.

    So you see, there are many ways we read people and its so true!

    -Donna
    donna merrill recently posted…Fear Is Just Business As UsualMy Profile

    1. Donna, thanks for that, I can imagine trying to control your hands must be difficult 🙂 I think the hardest thing is to control your body language and eye movement on camera as you don’t get the feedback that you do face-to-face.

      Thanks for the comment Andy

  12. Body language was one of the most interesting topics I studied at university and the research we had to do was fascinating but I agree that those practice sessions were intimidating, Marquita.

    Do you find yourself mimicking people without thinking about it? Someone crosses their legs and we do the same, they talk quietly and we lower our own voices and so on. I talk to my family in UK on the phone and start talking “Yorkshire”.

    I agree with all you say about how we should be aware of our own body language, and the impression this gives when networking, but sometimes this automatic mimicking is a good thing. It says “I understand you” Eye contact, for example can be too intense for some people. If they have trouble looking you in the eyes, keeping your eyes on them all the time can be intimidating. You don’t have to look around but averting your gaze can be a good thing.
    Sue Bride recently posted…What are Hashtag Chats – How to Join or Run OneMy Profile

    1. Sue, didn’t know you were from Yorkshire! My parents live just West of London. But you are right a friend of mine is half Italian and she will switch languages when she talks to her mother who lives in Yorkshire as well and has done for 30 years!

      It always comes down to building that bond and putting people at ease.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Andy

  13. Hey Andy,
    I think as marketers we forget about body language and appearance.. so I’m going to add one to your list – tone of voice. If you’re talking to someone on the phone, the sound of your voice, it’s tone, how enthusiastic it is (or not) will make an impact too.. thanks for reminding us all about this …
    Lesly Federici recently posted…A Little Birdie Told MeMy Profile

    1. Lesly, great point tone is so important as it conveys so much. Thanks for the comment

    2. Lesly, you are right tone of voice is important, especially for video, skype, facetime and the phone of course. Then eye or virtual eye contact also becomes important. Thanks for your comments Andy

  14. Sincere eye contact is so important, as are listening skills. There have been so many times I felt like the other person really wasn’t listening to what was being said, and their body language told us that he’d rather be somewhere else.
    Scott recently posted…Outdoor Sports and Fair Skin Do Not MixMy Profile

    1. and eye contact skills are important when you are doing video.

      Thanks Andy

  15. Andy,

    The one thing that I try to always focus on is eye contact and posture. Eye contact because I think it is important that the person you are talking to feel like they are the only person in the room. They must feel like you care about what they have to say and their problems.

    I also say posture because after 25 years of serving in the military this is a weak area for me, simply becaused we are trained to always maintain our posture in a rigid fashion. So, I try to really focus in on this one and be better at it.

    All 4 of these suggestions are awesome! Thank you so much for sharing.
    Nathaniel Kidd recently posted…Non-Frugal Habits That Can Make You Go BrokeMy Profile

    1. Nathaniel

      You welcome, the military angle is interesting. I have a friend who is a speaker and a success coach and was a Black Hawk Helicopter pilot. She went through many challenges in the military but she talks about the same things.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Andy

  16. Hello Andy, Oh Yeh body lanuage is huge.. I also have to agree with Lesly where she talks about your tone of voice, I guess I get this from talking on the phone so much, I can actully tell if someone is smiling just from listening to them talk.. :))

    What a great post, Thanks for sharing.. Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Your Daily Method Of Operation Is Your Guide To SuccessMy Profile

    1. Chery, thanks for your comment, I love the idea you can tell if people are smiling when you talk to them. It so important regardless of if it is face to face, on the phone or a hangout that you put across a positive persona so people will believe in you and that you can help them.

      Thanks Andy

  17. Hi Andy,

    I was very interested a lot the post and so read it with lots of keen interest and what I kept asking myself was this; what have I being wrong?
    And this post answered it at the end.
    Emmanuel recently posted…How smart are you as a Blogger?My Profile

    1. I am glad this helped you. Just remember you are building relationships with people so they know, like and Trust you. Thanks for your comments.

  18. Andy: It was really difficult to find HOW to leave a comment, but others succeeded so I was not about to give up. I love the relevance of your tips and the concept of body language in such an ‘impersonal’ forum as social media intrigues me. Turns out that ‘non-verbal’ signals are so important, whatever the medium and I loved the chain of comments almost more than the post itself. The two tips that helped me the most were – 1 to stand up and smile into a mirror when talking business on the phone, and 2. to mirror the party you are talking with first and then bring their energy along with yours. More power to your already powerful elbow, young MASTER Andy. prp
    Peter Pocklington recently posted…Getting THE WORD OutMy Profile

    1. Peter, thanks for describing me as “young”. In the world of the internet the concept of body language is lost, but we are still old fashion humans and we need that body language piece. That is why it so important on your video’s to get that piece right! Thanks Peter as always.

  19. Hi Andy,

    I attending a seminar a couple of weeks ago on giving dynamic presentations. Apparently, a common mistake is to freeze in one spot for the duration of the presentation. Some presenters feel most comfortable behind the podium but we should try to emulate great speakers like Steve Jobs (he moved purposefully around the stage during his presentations). Not only did he work the stage, he used gestures and body language to communicate his excitement and passion for his subject. My biggest take away was to pay attention to what my hands are doing because they are important for communicating emotion, being careful to only use gestures if they feel natural and avoid being too flamboyant with the arms. It is worthwhile to learn winning body language.
    Rachel Lavern@Online Biz Boomer Babe recently posted…Brand the Heck Out of YourselfMy Profile

    1. Thanks for the comment, it is always worse when you think about it. Presenters behind podiums are not very exciting. Steve Jobs was a master of his craft in many ways. Thanks Andy

  20. Great post, I loved these tips. Eye contact is definitely important; is shows you’re interested in what the other person has to say. I am sure that I am guilty of frowning while I’m listening to people sometimes though; I’m slightly hard of hearing, especially in large gatherings of people where there’s lots of conversations going on around me. It makes it very difficult for me to hear clearly and then I frown because I’m concentrating hard! I usually find if I’m honest with the other person about my hearing difficulties they understand and speak up for me. Great post! Andrea

  21. Andy, these things are definitely important in communication as are tone of voice and listening skills as others have mentioned. In-person networking can be a scary thing for a lot of people, though, and to be concerned about all the different nuances can make it more intimidating. I think the most important thing is to be real and to focus on the other person (which would include eye contact). I’ve learned from someone really cool (her name is Marsha Shandur) that networking is just grown-ups making friends 🙂 and not all the stiff, scary stuff we’ve made it to be (or perceive it to be). Just being relaxed and having a conversation is the way to go, in my opinion. For me, that’s going to include informal posture, lots of hand movement and smiles, and that important eye contact.

    1. Leanne, you are right it is just making friends but people build it up to be so much more.

      Thanks for your comments, Andy

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