We previously discussed the importance of having a clear business identity and looking the part (Creating Your Brand: Are you projecting the right image for your business?) but going out to networking events and business meetings is vital to attracting new clients.
In a face to face interaction…
… 55% of communication is made up of body language (what people see),
… 38% is about the tone of voice (what it sounds like),
… and just 7% are the words you use (what you say). *
*Based on Albert Mehrabian
55% – What People See
Like we said earlier, 55% of any face to face interaction is about what people see: what you look like and your body language. Unfortunately many people fail to realize the importance of this aspect of communication.
What you look like – your business image
What you decide to wear and how you wear it make such a huge impact. When we meet someone we make sub-conscious judgements as to whether they look the part. We would hate to admit it, but it’s a fact of life. It’s almost as if we have some boxes to tick in our heads: he/she “looks great”, “friendly“, “professional“, and so on… Sounds familiar?! This “screening process” determines who we want to talk to. Think about the last time you were out networking and the people you met – did you tend to gravitate towards people who ticked your boxes?
We all have our own style and personality but it’s vital that you look professional no matter what you do. You don’t have to dramatically change the way you look – you can still be casual, boho, corporate or whatever is your thing -, it’s just ensuring that what you are wearing looks smart and appropriate.
Make sure you dress appropriately for the event you are attending as sometimes you may need to up your game or even dress down. When you know that you look good it really boosts your confidence too.
When talking about body language we don’t mean the things you may have come across on TV, like the popular belief that someone rubbing their ear is lying (which, by the way is not always true, they could just have an itch!). You need to consider what your posture and mannerisms reveal about you: Does your posture exude confidence? Are you fiddling with your fingers or with a pen, as this may reveal that you are nervous? These are only some of the messages that people get before you even start speaking, and this can set the tone for the rest of the conversation.
Another crucial aspect of successful communication is creating a rapport. Often, this might happen completely spontaneously – you meet a person and feel like you’ve known them forever, you are happily chatting away and no effort is required to establish rapport. But in business situations we can’t rely on talking only to people with whom we have such good ‘chemistry’. Instead, we need to learn how to engage people’s attention and make them more receptive to what we have to say.
In order to create a rapport with someone, start by mirroring their body language. If they are standing opposite chatting to you and using arm gestures, try not to have your arms crossed – this can seem like a barrier. Also, if they are facing you, your body should not be turned away from them. Of course, be subtle with the mirroring and don’t overdo it as you might come across as just being weird!
Make sure you have good eye contact with the person you’re talking to as it is very off-putting to have a conversation with someone who avoids eye contact. Likewise, don’t get caught up in a ‘staring competition’! Additionally, by keeping eye contact and displaying interest (nodding, smiling and other empathic expressions) when the other person is talking, you will come across as a good listener – this is very important as it makes them feel that you understand their needs. Essentially, rapport is all about helping that person relax and feel open to whatever you have to offer.
What about the other two remaining factors – sounds (38%) and words (7%)? More about the way we come across in our next article…
Janine Quinn has over 15 years’ corporate experience and is a qualified Trainer. She has produced and delivered a variety of bespoke training courses and workshops, which included Induction, Communication Skills and Management workshops. She now runs Sassy Style and is a qualified Style Coach for men and women. Should you require any information regarding business image consultations and creating the right look for your business brand, please email Janine@sasssystyle.co.uk or call 07557 818103.
Dr Jelena Goranovic is a psychologist, researcher and lecturer working in the area of people development and wellbeing. As the Programme Director of the Sussex Wellbeing Company, she combines the latest psychology and behavioural neuroscience research findings with cognitive theory in the development of integrated stress management and team development programmes. Should you require additional information about our services or would like to invite Jelena to present as a keynote speaker at an event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.