Networking events. Association meetings. Conferences. Regional meetings. Trade shows. Each of these events represents an opportunity. Making the sale. Making the right connection. Exchanging business cards with the right person.
But how do you know who Mr. or Ms. Right is? Who is the person who can green light your product or service within their company?
One option is the internet. Do your research, find the bigwig’s name, do a Google Image search, and you have your target. At the event, you can scan the room until you see the person and introduce yourself.
But what if that’s not possible? What if they don’t show up? What if Google Image search pulls up nothing? What if you’re not sure who your ideal target is?
Thankfully, when this happens, you don’t have to randomly approach people and hope they are your mark. You can be a detective at all your future business meetings and use the skills of deciphering body language to discover the most important people in any group.
After speaking at an event, I went to the hotel’s lounge to relax and unwind. Wanting to enjoy some alone time, I sat in the far corner booth and began one of my favorite activities: people watching.
There was another conference at the hotel and some of their attendees came to the lounge for a social hour. At first everyone was shaking hands, welcoming one another and being very friendly. After awhile the large group started splitting up into subgroups. 5 women chatting at one table. 3 men laughing at another. 2 women standing and gossiping. But, there was one subgroup that caught my attention.
I noticed 3 gentlemen. One tall, good posture, well dressed. The second was of average height, well dressed, good posture. The third was short, had poor posture, and was – quite frankly – poorly dressed. Who is the most important person of the group?
Most people would say one of the first two gentlemen. They had strong posture, knew how to carry themselves, and their clothing reeked of success. Most people would be wrong.
After knowing a few body language basics, you would know to look more closely. While posture and clothing are good variables to observe, they are surface level indicators that can easily and consciously be altered for any situation. As a body language pro, you would want to look at the unconscious indicators to discover your alpha-person of the group.
In this case – as in most – the feet gave it away. Even though the men were standing in a circle, politely facing each other and looking at one another while they spoke, the feet pointed toward Mr. Important himself, gentleman #3. That’s right. Mr. slumped-over-I-don’t-need-to-iron-my-clothes-or-put-together-a-snazzy-outfit-like-the-rest-of-you.
The feet of the other two gentlemen were pointed directly at guy #3 like a pointing dog during the hunt. The feet give away so much information unconsciously. They almost always will point towards the direction where you want to be or towards the person you perceive to be the most important person in the conversation.(Where was Mr. Important’s feet pointing? The door.)
While initial looks might lead you to one conclusion, body language will give you the power to detect the subtleties that lead you to the truth.
Use this body language detective skill for your next meeting. If you want to converse with the “top dog” just follow the feet.