December brings lots of social obligations—and with it lots of opportunities to connect with new friends and potential business contacts. To make the most of this holiday season, communications expert Leil Lowndes offers insider tricks that will help you work any room, charm every guest and leave a lasting impression at your next event.
How to Navigate a Large Party
Remember that every big function starts out as an intimate affair. So grit your teeth, swallow your instincts, and go early. When you’re among the first to arrive, you’ll have the chance to meet everybody who’s there. As the party grows you’ll have a built-in group to hang with and to introduce you to other guests.
How to Break the Ice
Asking questions about someone’s last few hours is a great way to kick-start the conversation. It may sound silly to you, but this is not ‘small’ talk to her. Why? Because those details are still on her mental windshield and the time proximity makes them loom larger than they really are. She’ll love talking about it because she’s so close to the experience.
How to Make Your Handshake Stand Out
To create an instant connection with a new acquaintance ever-so-lightly place your forefinger on his wrist vein so he feels the warmth of your body flowing into his. Sliding your hand into his far enough to reach his pulse forces your webs to touch, which is another sign of a great handshake.
How to Present Your Business Card
Your card is an extension of yourself so hand it over with pride. Take it gently out of an attractive carrying case and present it horizontally, with the script facing the recipient. Hold it just a bit higher than usual—not in their face—but at a height where he/she could almost read it.
How to Accept a Business Card
To make the giver feel valued don’t just glance at their card and quickly stash it away. Hold it with both hands and examine it with care. Then switch to holding the card with one hand, but continue holding it at waist level or just below. Every so often look down at it.
How to Tactfully Change the Subject
Stuck in a tired conversation about the weather (snore)? Change the subject by repeating or rephrasing the last word or phrase the person said, and then tie it to yours. For example, say “On rainy weekends, I usually go to the movies. In fact, just last week I saw one called…” If you allude to what someone else just said, people won’t even notice the shift.
How to Score the Perfect Seat
If you are seeking any important alliance, arrive early at the gathering and hover around the sides of the room. When you spot that important client or contact, make a speedy (but subtle) landing in the seat right next to him.
How to Make a Great Last Impression
The next time you meet someone, make a note of how enthusiastic you sounded when you said hello. When it comes time to say good-bye, boost your energy level up a tad higher and make your ‘bye’ as big as your ‘hi’.
Adapted from How to Instantly Connect with Anyone: 96 All-New Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, by Leil Lowndes, McGraw-Hill, www.lowndes.com.
Use body language to your advantage—these tricks of the trade will subtly send signals to your fellow party goers.
Wave to imaginary friends.
When you face a daunting swarm of strangers, don’t stop at the door with a terrified expression. Glide right in and gleefully wave either between bodies at imaginary people or at a real person across the room. It gets you into the crowd looking popular and confident, and that makes you feel popular and confident!
Reach out, then pull back.
To show you like someone without being forward, extend your arm as though you are going to touch their arm to express fondness or sympathy. Then, as though realizing the possible inappropriateness of the gesture, pull back. This subtle technique, when executed innocently demonstrates affection, respect, and decorum.
Nod up, not down.
To convey confidence when expressing acceptance or agreement, begin with your chin parallel to the floor. Then, lift it up and bring it back to normal several times. Blend this confident move with other warm gestures and people will appreciate such an authoritative looking person agreeing with them.
Sitting in an elevated seat generates subconscious respect for you and your ideas. Arrive at meetings early to find or create the highest perch. At casual social gatherings choose the highest seat in the living room. Half-sitting on a couch arm works well in short discussions. When people have to physically look up to you, it carries over into psychologically looking up to you.
Take the “success seat”.
Sitting directly to the right of the host, honored guest, or most admired person at a dinner or meeting holds unspoken status and will subliminally increase people’s perception of you.