“Your best networking tool is a smile. Don’t underestimate its power when meeting people.”
This was my quote selected by the Woman’s Advantage Shared Wisdom calendar for 2016. And it’s one I try to live by, because smiling has many benefits.
When we smile, we signal our friendliness, openness to engaging, and interest in people. Smiling reduces stress hormone levels, and increases mood-enhancing endorphins. A 2010 study by Wayne State University even showed that smiling might help you live longer!
Smiles are one of the few non-verbal communications that translates between cultures. Common signs like a thumbs-up have very different meanings in other cultures (in Australia, it could be considered vulgar). But a smile is able to communicate the same positive feeling, no matter where you’re from.
With all of these benefits, is it really a surprise that smiling can have a positive effect on your business, as well? Smiling creates a connection between two people — in this case, you and another person (client, employee, vendor, etc.). And one of the most important things in any successful business relationship is a connection.
Furthermore, smiling is a mindset. If you start your business interactions with a smile, you’re actually more likely to be in a happier, more relaxed frame of mind. This will help you put your best foot forward in any business interaction.
Studies back up the power of a smile. In a survey by Kingston University, 59% of consumers claimed that a smile and a friendly greeting was the reason that they were loyal to their company. This was the most common response given, proving that a smile is key in deciding how consumers are going to perceive you.
While social media and online communications are all valuable, meeting people with a genuine smile and handshake can go a long way in building relationships. And in the end, it is really true that people “do business with people that they know and trust.”