There are some key networking skills that should be applied no matter where you network whether it be a formal networking group, a relaxed drop-in style networking event over a coffee or a professional bodies event. The hub of successful networking is relationships therefore some of the key networking skills are around communication, rapport/relationship building, body language and persuasion. Over the next few weeks we will be covering a key skill a week. This week it’s all about eye contact!
#3 The Eyes Have It!
The following statistic regarding communication has been used for more years than I have been networking and that is a little while no!
7% of all meaningful communication comes from the words we use – 38% from our tonality and a staggering 55% from our body language.
One of the most important areas of body language is eye contact therefore it should be no surprise when I say that good eye contact is one of key networking skills.
Why is good eye contact so important?
- It indicates that you are listening
- It demonstrates you are interested
- It helps build rapport quickly
- It is reassuring and creates a feeling of trust
- It indicates confidence and self-belief
- It signifies mutual respect
Good eye contact will increase your ability to have meaningful conversations at a deeper and more valuable level.
Getting the level of eye contact right is crucial. Too much and you can make people feel very uncomfortable. You can be perceived as too intense, flirtatious, aggressive, pushy or just plain weird. Too little and you can come across as bored, disinterested, distracted or just plain arrogant.
Top tips for getting the level right
When listening to an individual look directly at them, but do break the intensity by looking from their eyes to their mouth and back again every few seconds.
The rule is similar when talking to an individual. You should break your stare every few seconds by glancing from side to side with your eyes. This is not a movement of the head only the eyes. Most of you will already do this unconsciously especially if you are being asked questions. If I ask you now to describe your first school to me your eyes will move to the left as you retrieve the information from your memory. If I ask you to describe your dream home your eyes will move to the right as you create a vision of what it would look like.
If you are talking to a group vary who you have eye contact with to include the whole group and keep everyone engaged and listening.
Next time you are at a networking event notice the level of eye contact you have with people you gel with and those you don’t.
If you missed my previous posts about key networking skills, you can find them below: