Conferences, forums or annual days – they’re all great opportunities to meet new people, build rapport and perhaps get that coveted client.

When we’re interacting with people, what matters is not just what we say but how we say!

Especially when it comes to conveying emotions, for example happiness at meeting someone, your body language conveys a minimum of 60% of your message.

Here are 5 body language hacks to ace your next networking event.

#1. Smile to Create a Positive Feedback Loop

The smile is the symbol that is rated with the highest positive emotional content.

– Andrew Newberg, Director of Research, Marcus Institute of Integrative Health

The human brain can recognize a smile from 100 feet away. From a survival standpoint, this makes sense. Back in our caveman days, we needed to know even before a person approached us, if they’re safe. Seeing a smile from this distance indicated that it was a friend.

In today’s fast paced world of networking, we often forget to smile.

But if you understand the science of how smiling impacts your brain, you’d love to learn how to smile more often.

Researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden found that when someone smiles at us, it stimulates our brains mirror neurons, which makes us smile back, therefore creating a mutually positive experience.

#2 Give a Confident Handshake

In your lifetime you’ll shake hands 15000 times on an average!

Your handshake is a powerful nonverbal tool to make a killer first impression, come across as trustworthy and build awesome rapport.

We need to learn the art and science of a good handshake for the sake of our own success!

Here are the basics of a good handshake:

  • It’s firm. It should not be too hard that it crushes the other person’s bones nor too soft that it feels like a dead fish.
  • It’s vertical — neither person’s palm is facing up or down.
  • It’s dry. Do wipe your hands on the sides of your pant or with a tissue if you’re holding a drink.
  • It involves palm to palm contact. Sometimes we make a weak ‘fingers to palm’ or ‘fingers to fingers’ contact. That sends out a message of disinterest or low confidence.

#3 Make a Good Eye Contact

When you enter a conference room full of people, you sub-consciously survey the place with your eyes. It’s a survival instinct – essential for our brain to “declare” the place as safe!

But in that process, we forget to make an eye contact during our initial exchange of greetings and miss a fantastic opportunity to build rapport.

When we make eye contact we release the bonding hormone called Oxytocin.

Oxytocin helps in forging and strengthening social relations. It’s released mostly through physical touch and mutual eye contact.

Remember this golden rule of any networking event – Shake hands WITH an eye contact to initiate connection with that person.

Tactical Tip = Give one-sentence-long eye contact. Let’s say you’re saying “Hi, how are you?” Make an eye contact for this full sentence.

#4. Angle Your Body Towards Them

You want to inspire people to interact with you. Encourage that through your body, by angling it towards them.

Let’s say someone asks you a question; while listening to them align your top, torso and toes towards that person.

After that, another person on the other side comments on something. Now turn your body and angle it towards them.

This is called fronting.

Good fronting is when we align our top, torso and toes towards someone. It works by sending a signal to their brain that all your attention is theirs. Learn more about fronting here:

#5 Watch out for signs of disinterest

Sometimes we do not realize that we’re holding people back from their food or the toilet. Watch people’s feet!

Our feet are the least controlled by our brain. Hence, they subconsciously indicate what we really want to do. They are the most honest part of your body

If you notice that the person you’re speaking with is pointing their feet towards the exit, it’s time to give them a break!