26/07/2012

By Will Kintish, Business Networking Skills And LinkedIn Authority

Avoid Being Socially Inept

There's a fine line between being friendly and personable and being awkward. You do not want to be the latter.

Steer clear of talking about things that would make people uncomfortable. For example, don't tell me that you were out of work for six months because you recently had brain surgery, or because you were laid off.. People are going to feel as if they need to pity you, but you don't want that to be the foundation of a relationship. Being vague about negatives — like saying you're returning after a six-month medical leave, or after spending some time travelling — is a good way to keep the conversation on a high level.

You should maintain some normal social constructs, such as where you direct your eyes and how closely you stand to people. Looking from someone's eyes to the middle of their forehead is professional, versus a more social gaze of eyes-to-mouth. You should also try to keep an arm's length away from anyone you're talking to; people need their personal space.

Taking up too much of someone's time is almost as bad as ignoring them entirely. It's imperative that you understand when your time is up; you win in the social world if you 'release people first,' so if you see a slow crossing of the arms, an increase in the amount of time they're looking over your shoulder, or a sudden obsession with the word 'anyway,' they are giving you not-so-subtle hints that they'd like to move on.

Here is how not to leave. Examples: "It was a pleasure meeting you! There are a couple of other people here who I said I'd get it touch with while I'm here." If you're still lost, there's always the standby "I'm going to run to grab another drink." And off you go!

This is the rude, disrespectful ignorant networker. He generally attends events and generally upsets lots of people. What does he do to create this unhappy situation? Women generally are much nicer and tend to behave in a more courteous friendly way. Here are 10 disgusting behaviours:

1. He doesn’t understand the rules of space, stands too close and for those with claustrophobia is a living hell. You take a step back and he follows you.

2. He comes over to you whilst you’re chatting with John. He knows John but not you. “Hi John, good to see you” and totally ignores you.

3. I’m a group of three or four he turns his back on you during a conversation.

4. When he had enough of you he simply walks off without a ‘by your leave’.

5. He constantly hijacks the conversation. “Oh I’ve been there. I know someone better than him. I can beat that, it only took me …" etc etc.

6. He is downright rude, sneers at something said or is uncomplimentary about other people and their business.

7. He breaks into closed groups where it’s obvious they’re having a private and confidential conversation. Another note read the various rooms’ body language; approach only the open formatted groups unless you know someone in there.

8. He drinks too much too soon and behaves like the original lager lout.

9. He tells inappropriate jokes or anecdotes

10. And the worst behaviour of the hooligan is left until last. He’s the one who look over your shoulder or around the room as he’s talking to you. His body language is saying “I’m bored with you Will, I want out of here”. Fine, you don’t want to build a relationship with this hooligan do you? Move on. Simply say “Well, it’s good to meet you chief hooligan, will you excuse me I need to see my friend May over there”. He’ll think “thank goodness for that!”

CALL TO ACTION

Ensure no-one can ever accuse you of behaving like a hooligan. Networking is building relationships. How can anyone do that with the sort of behaviours listed?