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That Whole Social Networking Thing

That Whole Social Networking Thing

    If you haven’t figured this all out, the reason the world is going all social networking happy is because this is your means to connect to people directly and get away from the rigid structure of corporate ladders and protocol and hierarchy. It’s a way to extend your audience of friends, colleagues, business partners, and teammates. The whole point of this is to build your new world map from the digits and bits and free hugs left floating out there on the Internet in search of you. Did you know that? People are trying to find you and connect.

    Why so many platforms?


    Just like in real life, there are tons of networks, and they each have their own spin. There are presence networks like Twitter and Jaiku. There are broader platforms like Facebook or the less elegant MySpace. And there are networks with themes like Flickr for photos, or LinkedIN for business. There are do-it-yourself social platforms like Ning. I could name tons more sites (and all those links are to my profiles on all those sites), but you get the point.

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    Why so many? Because there are different reasons to be part of different groups. And all of these groups drive one thing: connection to other people who share similar interests.

    Social Networks are the New Chambers of Commerce

    I believe if you’re a business, or belong to a certain profession, that joining the trade organizations and consortiums and chambers are all important duties to continue doing in the “real world.” But it is just as important to establish your footprint in virtual spaces, like Second Life, where plenty of real world business is being transacted every day. On top of this, these personal social networks like the Twitters and the Facebooks are important ways to reach out and establish relationships. And if you join some of the non-work-heavy sites like a Flickr, you get the added benefit or proving to prospective customers, clients, and colleagues that you’re a real human being, talented, and not just some kind of corporate robot.

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    Tie them all together

    I’m a big fan of Wink, as a site that ties all kinds of various tools together. They mix everything from your SMS messages in Twitter to your photo stream to your del.icio.us bookmarking all neatly into one package. Then, should you keep a blog, they make a really cool widget you can add into your sidebar or place on a page, such that someone can quickly and easily connect to you through all your various social outlets. See an example here.

    Tips for newcomers

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    You get what you put in, is my first point to make. Second, the first thing you should do upon joining ANY social network, is determine how things are done, the social norms of the environment. For instance, I joined a community that operates via mail lists, and I ended up sounding a little too “pitchy” for people. They got mad pretty quick. Had I read a few dozen emails from other group members, I would’ve understood the “lay of the land” a little better.

    I recommend using your picture everywhere you can. On my blog, I griped about LinkedIN not having photos as part of a profile page, and got a neat response from the company, but really, most of these other places permit a user picture. Resist the urge to put your logo, and throw a headshot up there. Make it more personal that way.

    The real return on social networks

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    Most of my friends over the last several months got jobs through a social network. Real, paying jobs. They found things they were passionate about, met the people deep within organizations that mattered to them, and they tied those relationships together. Do I need to tell you more than that? You can’t do that with a corporate directory. You can’t do that with the average ad. Meet real people, connect, build relationships. It’s how this gets done these days.

    Chris Brogan blogs at [chrisbrogan.com]. He got his current job creating the Video on the Net conference by creating a free unconference called PodCamp. Meet him in Stockholm Sweden, 12-14 June, at PodCamp Europe.

    Photo credit, ganonzote

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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