We’ve been thinking a lot about building a strong business team over the last couple of weeks, and mostly that’s been about finding the people that you need to join you! But in today’s blog, I wanted to touch on how you approach the people you want to engage with. Body language is so important in building strong relationships. But where do you start? Especially if you’re trying to read someone you’ve never met?

How do you know when to approach someone?

So imagine that you’re arriving at a conference, workshop or event. People are milling around chatting. Networking. Making connections. You’ve identified one of the delegates as the perfect team member, and this event is the perfect time to get connected. But how do you make that first approach? How do you know if they’re even open to someone coming to talk to them?

Making the first move

It can be incredibly hard to walk up to someone that you don’t know and start a conversation. We’ve all been there. Instinct says that you should try to make eye contact. To look for people that might be smiling at you. But actually, someone told me once that you should start by looking at the feet! Weird, I know, but it’s surprisingly accurate!

As you can see from this infographic, the position of people’s feet actually make different patterns. Straight lines, triangles, and so on. The key is to look for whether, if you join that group, there’s an opening for you to make a new shape. Eg. turn a triangle into a square etc.

Looking for openings

And if you look for the groups where the body language is ‘open’, you’ll find that people are very receptive to new people joining! And by filling in the gap, you’ll find that people will adjust their own body language to accommodate you.

But when you try to approach a ‘closed’ group, it will automatically feel a lot more uncomfortable. There’s little point in trying to approach, and actually participate in conversation with a group of five or more people though – unless you know at least one person there, of course!

But what about your own body language?

This is a whole other question. The theories behind the idea of body language are complex ones, and certainly too much for a single blog. This particular piece is designed to help you to understand how you can start to read others’ body language. But what about when you’ve approached the people and greeted them? What does your own body language say to the people you’re meeting?

That will be the subject of a whole new blog, so check back soon and have a read!

And if you want to put this theory to the test, why not come along to one of our networking events? Our events are very much non-pressurised. There’s no speed networking. We don’t make you stand up to do an elevator pitch. It’s all very relaxed, and we’ll even meet you at the door if you’re nervous. So why not join us? We’d love to meet you!