For some reason, the professional art of networking has garnered a difficult or stressful connotation for many candidates preparing to begin their job search. But in truth, successful networking requires the same skills (personal and professional) that you will draw on to prepare for a successful interview. Perfecting your elevator pitch, knowing your resume inside and out, and targeting your ideal audience are all critical to preparing for a high-profile networking event.
Even better, there are a number of skills you can master before you even say hello to someone you want to connect with. Today’s article discusses four key elements to improving your networking abilities before you even have the chance to hand out your business card.
Your Posture Says a Lot About You
Confidence in your walk and the way you set your shoulders will tell prospective employers more than you might think at first glance. Hiring managers are most impressed by people who are confident in themselves, so if you need to brush up on your networking skills, consider practicing a confident walk and holding your head up with your shoulders back. Don’t be afraid to take up space. Holding a wide stance with your shoulders out and hands on your hips for a mere 30 seconds (like in an elevator ride) has been proven to boost poise and self-assurance. Give it a try next time you find yourself a bit on the nervous side before a networking event.
Dress for the Job You Wish You Had
Don’t shortchange your self-worth by dressing like you don’t care. It may seem superficial, but a nice business suit can go a long way to improving your self-presentation. Employers want to see you in your best light, even at a simple networking event. Dress to impress, but try to avoid any flashy or distracting accessories. You want to appear professional, yet approachable when making connections that can grow your network.
A Strong Handshake Can Set You Apart
There are few things more off-putting than a weak or flimsy handshake. Not only does a slack grip show a lack of confidence, but also a certain disinterested in meeting someone. Start a conversation off with a firm, yet friendly handshake that tells your new connection that they are someone you are interested in speaking with and that you take them seriously.
Good Eye Contact
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the significance of eye contact. Similar to a good hand shake, eye contact shows your audience you are present and engaged in the conversation, you take yourself and them seriously, and you have the confidence and self-assuredness to present yourself openly and in a professional manner. Avoiding eye contact is an evolutionary indicator of false behavior, and untrustworthiness. Don’t give your networking audience even the slightest indicator that you are not a worthy professional connection by failing to meet their gaze properly.