When you were young do you know how your parents knew you were lying? Eye contact.
Eye contact is just one tool every person has at their disposal when it comes to efficient, successful networking.
Today I was fortunate enough to hear from Mrs. Kathleen Harshberger from “The Protocol School of Washington”. In her hour and a half long presentation she highlighted several methods of engagement and presence that would propel any graduate into a corporate world full of opportunities.
So do you recall the other day when you friend asked you what you got on your math test, and you said eh, a 65? Then, after realizing they did better, you added on the limiter “but grades dont’ really matter anymore, as long as you graduate”. Well your 85% right. Did you know, based on a study by Harvard University, The Carnegie Foundation, and The Stanford Research Institute, that “technical skills and knowledge account for 15% of the reason you get a job, keep a job, and advance in a job. However, 85% of your job success is connected to your people skills and networking skills”?
Most avid studying aficionados can’t get past the idea that grades are not important. Now I know the few of you reading that know me well, know that in High School yeah, this was me 100%. I should assure you that while I was an avid scholar, you know right well I knew how to network.
Now that I have cleared that piece of debris out of the way, I want to continue sharing what Mrs. Harshberger shared with the attendees today.
The first time you meet someone, and each subsequent visit, it is important that you create a presence. How? Eye Contact. Entrance. Handshake. Posture. Introduction. People Skills. All of these create a presence whether you know it or not. Usually if you are aware of these fields, you recognize their importance and are therefore proficient in their application. However if you don’t know about these fields, you don’t know that you are automatically setting yourself up for a disadvantage.
One specific, eye contact is vastly important no matter what cultural setting you are networking in. In North America, and Canada, eye contact between 40-60% of the time creates a credible scene, anything less and your perceived as sneaky, lying, and like your holding something back.
Eye contact is just one form of nonverbal communication. Do you know how much information is conveyed in a handshake? A handshake reveals and conveys endless data. In any business or networking situation, the person who extends their hand first has the advantage. In order to insure it’s you, always have your right hand free. Secondly, always hold your glass in your left hand. Why? Who wants to shake a clammy, wet right hand fresh off holding a cold beverage? What message does that immediately send to the potential “networkee”?
The handshake really is a beautiful thing if practiced correctly. For example, I am sure you all have experienced the “bone crusher” the “fingertip holder” the “two hand shake” and many other forms of the handshake. In current day business and social settings the only appropriate shake is one where your thumb is up, fingers are out, and a nice firm grasp is administered followed by 3-4 shakes.
During and after a handshake is also the appropriate time to administer an introduction. Do not place a honorific on yourself, unless the other person has. In other words do not label yourself as “It’s nice to meet you, I’m Dr. Latka”. This immediately makes the person you are introducing yourself to feel like you think you are more important than them- not the right foot to build a network on.
In many networking settings, a meal is consumed. However in 99.9% of the cases, the eating is not the main objective. Rather it is the ability to repsectfully handle yourself, manage your food/consumption, and create a natural flow of conversation at the same time. Someone lookoing to network with you can learn a great deal simply by observing you at a meal.
In the words of a fortune 500 CEO, “Eating is not an executive skill, but it is especially hard to imagine why anyone negotiating a rise to the top would consider it possible to skip mastering the very simple requirements…what else did they skip learning???”
Establish your credibility people.