Effective Networking depends on Effective Communication. Networking is a great way to meet new people and find new opportunities. You only have 3 seconds to make a great first impression. Your non-verbal message is probably what is heard first. A smile sends a powerful message. It says ‘Hi, I’m worth getting to know.‘ People who smile appear younger, happier, and even more intelligent.
Beginning your message with a warm smile and a genuine handshake sets a positive tone for the rest of your conversation. A handshake creates a chemical reaction and your body releases oxytocin, the hormone of trust. Your posture also sends a message. Crossing your arms says you are closed to the relationship. Leaning into the conversation demonstrates you are interested in what is being said.
Communication is verbal and non-verbal; it happens when you speak and when you listen. It is important to clearly enunciate, use sentences that are easy to follow, and avoid jargon and abbreviations. When you successfully communicate, you avoid being misunderstood. Mean what you say. Changing the word you emphasize in a sentence can totally change the message. Are you asking “Tell ME what you are thinking.” OR “Tell me what YOU are thinking.”
Every industry, profession, and company has their alphabet soup. When you use a term, an abbreviation, or an acronym specific to a profession or company, you run the risk of not being understood. Your listener won’t ask you to explain what you mean, but will merely pretend to understand by smiling and nodding. People are embarrassed to admit they don’t know what you are talking about; they are uncomfortable asking you to explain. They may even disengage from the conversation; stop listening. You may have lost an important opportunity because your words were not understood by the listener.
The same acronym or abbreviation can be used in a variety of settings. In the business world, if you refer to IT you are probably talking about Information Technology. However, in education, the term IT can also refer to Instructional Technology; the technology used to support teaching and learning. People are now using the acronym IIT to mean Instructional and Information Technology.
Keep your listener is engaged. An engaged listener will understand the conversation and remember important parts. Surprisingly in just 8 hours following a conversation, the listener can only remembers 25-50% of what was said. If the speaker used terms that aren’t understood, it directly impacts both understanding and the ability to clearly remember.
Make sure your conversations are memorable. Be animated! Keep in mind people have difficulty holding onto more than 3 facts/points. Chunk information to aid the listener. Create a tag line that highlights what you are saying or present your information by using alliteration, a simile or metaphor. They all can aid the listener’s memory. Remember, it’s more than what you say; it’s how you say it.