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The Reluctant Networker – getting into a conversation – the art of proxemics!

June 7, 2013

At a recent Bristol Business Network the seminar before the networking lunch was titled “The A-Z of Networking” which took people through the why, how, when, what, where and when we network.

This obviously got Chris thinking and I am extremely grateful that Chris gave me the following “The Networking event for the reluctant Networker” which raised a number of questions that I hope to answer over coming posts

5a Breaking into a group – at an event look for the position of people when they are talking – face to face with feet together – an in depth conversation – or stood at an angle to one another – feet apart – open to others to join in

This is all about the science of proxemics!

From Wikipedia – Proxemics is a subcategory of the study of nonverbal communication along with haptics (touch), kinesics (body movement),vocalics (paralanguage), and chronemics (structure of time).[1] Proxemics can be defined as “the interrelated observations and theories of man’s use of space as a specialized elaboration of culture”.[2] Edward T. Hall, the cultural anthropologist who coined the term in 1963, emphasized the impact of proxemic behavior (the use of space) on interpersonal communication.




At an event……..


Looking at the group of 3 people you will notice that their stance is open – there is even a space so they are open to someone joining their group. Their feet are apart and the gent on the right even has his feet slightly splayed – an inclusive stance to the other gent and lady.



I know you cannot see the feet but the position of these two gents is face to face – not much opportunity to break into this conversation – to try and grab one or others attention here would probably be seen as rude.

From a networking event perspective…

If you arrive early people will gravitate towards you but only if you are open to this.

  • Checking your phone, looking through papers, the delegate list is not ideal.
  • Be open and smiling – far more welcoming.

If you arrive at an event on your own then when you enter the room there are a number of strategies you can use –

  • Can the host introduce you to someone?
  • By going to get a drink will you be able to meet someone else getting a drink?
  • Look for the the person on their own and introduce yourself to them.
  • Look for the groups, pairs of people who are in an open stance and introduce yourself – perhaps asking if you can join them would be a god opener!

Thank you again to Chris for this and over the course of the next few months the questions asked will be answered using the resources and experiences that are there available!

If you enjoyed this article what about donating to The Jessie May Trust

Jessie May

Bristol Business Network Charity of the year 2013

Jessie May is a local charity that provides vital nursing care, within the family home, for children who have life limiting conditions. In addition they provide respite days, packed with activities, with expert care on hand giving parents and siblings a chance to do some of the things you and I take for granted – such as the weekly shop or perhaps even a trip to the zoo.

Other ways you can help

  1. Many companies have charity committees – if yours does it would be great to get an introduction to the chair or other members.
  2. As well as hard cash we also need IT hardware, office equipment, furniture etc. If you become aware that your company or a client company is getting rid of good stuff then you might point them in our direction?
  3. Also as I mentioned we are currently collecting old mobile phones and inkjet cartridges for recycling which raises money for us. A new fundraising initiative is recycling old jewelry – gold silver, costume jewelry and watches broken and damaged all can be recycled and raise money for us.
  4. You may be a member of a sports club, a choir, or other leisure group. These often raise money for charities also – consideration of Jessie May would be very helpful.
  5. An opportunity for you to market your business through sponsoring our newsletter for example.

Or a great way of raising team morale by a team participating in a fun fundraising event.

If you want any information on any of these ideas then please email me or ring me – Chris Roys   Chief Executive   01179616840

Plethora of Networking Articles here

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