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Six Dating Tips for Networking

A man and a woman encounter each other while networking

Is it any wonder why there are speed dating and speed networking events? Is a social or business networking website all that different from a dating site? Should we be surprised to find out that tweeting can elevate levels of oxytocin – the hormone responsible for feelings of love and intimacy? When it comes down to it, both networking and dating involve hitting it off with a stranger in the hopes that a mutually beneficial relationship will flourish. This is why many of the rules that apply to the dating scene apply to the networking scene as well. So the next time you’re looking to get down to business, keep the following networking tips in mind.

  1. Smile

    The effects of smiling are well documented. Most of us have heard that smiling can lower your stress levels and that, like laughter, it can be contagious. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of that power when trying to drum up new business or make your next career move? Studies also show that people who are smiling in their profile pictures on social media have more connections – and that even includes LinkedIn. Many people believe that if they smile for their LinkedIn photo, they won’t be taken seriously. On the contrary, not smiling can seriously constrain your contact list.

  2. It’s not all about you

    Networking isn’t about sparking a one-way romance – and neither is dating for that matter. In fact, not unlike a narcissistic date, talking only about yourself – your interests, your accomplishments, your ambitions – is sure to turn the other person off. For some, it’s easier to fall into this trap at a networking event than on a date. That’s because many think of the event only as a means to a self-serving end: more business prospects. Meanwhile, only the worst dates go out with a similar mindset. It’s important to remember that networking, like a date, is still about building a rapport and discovering compatibility. And that means taking turns talking and listening.

  3. How a handshake is like a kiss

    Studies show that the first kiss between two people is a way for each of them to evaluate the other’s suitability as a mate. A flood of information is exchanged between them, all of it subconscious and all of it crucial. In fact, a “bad” first kiss can determine whether there’s a second date. Not unlike a first kiss, a first handshake carries with it loads of subconscious signals that can make or break a potential relationship. A study published in the December 2012 edition of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience concluded that greeting someone with a handshake greatly increases the positivity of the following interaction. However, the way a handshake is delivered also matters. A limp handshake, especially one that isn’t accompanied by eye contact, can convey weakness or indifference, while one that is too strong can convey aggression or overcompensation. A good handshake conveys warmth, respect, and trustworthiness. This means using a firm – but not crushing – grasp, eye contact, and about three pumps. Even better: smile too.

  4. Be intoxicating, not intoxicated

    Drinking on a date is normal and so is holding a networking event at a bar. In both situations, the consumption of alcohol is meant to calm nerves and lower inhibitions to facilitate conversations, particularly among the shyer of us. But know your limits, and don’t push them. Getting drunk on a date can be embarrassing. Getting drunk at a networking event, where you interact with more than one person, each of whom represent potential career advancement, can be detrimental.

  5. Work the floor

    When you know, you know. But sometimes you have to date a lot of people before you find that special someone. The same goes for networking. Not everyone at a networking event requires the same level of attention; common interests and goals still matter the most, and the game is still about quality over quantity. The same applies to adding connections on LinkedIn. While it’s definitely possible to send a mass invite to everyone who’s ever emailed you, or to reach out to anyone who shows up on your “People You May Know” list, your time and energy are better spent focusing only on those you think you can forge a fruitful affiliation with.

  6. The suave follow-up

    Everyone sweats the follow-up phone call after a good date – or at least what we thought was a good date – because we fear rejection. The same fear can creep in while you’re sitting at your desk, flicking the corner of a now weathered business card, your eyes darting back and forth between the embossed lettering of their name and your deafeningly silent phone. Well if that’s the case, forget the phone. After all, you were at a networking event, not on a date. While a phone call is nice when you’re 100% sure the person will appreciate it, a nice follow-up email will do coupled with a LinkedIn invite. Then leave it alone. Don’t keep emailing, don’t keep calling. The ball’s in their court and there are plenty of fish in the sea.

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