by Bob Salvas

When it comes to face-to-face communication, there is one thing that is more important than almost anything else.  This one thing also happens to be what people are going to remember long after they meet you.  If the goal of networking is to communicate and be remembered (and it is), then this one thing surely contributes significantly to success or failure.  What is this one thing?

Your face.

How often have you met people and remembered their face but not their name?  This is a common occurrence and the reason is that we think (and remember) in images.  When we are talking to people we are looking at their face (if we are doing it right), so that is what we remember.  And when it comes to communication, experts routinely tell us that ‘body language’ is the most important thing.  In fact, Dr. Albert Mehrabian, in his landmark book, Silent Messages:  Implicit Communication of Emotions and Attitudes, states that 55 percent of communication is non-verbal.  And what is the most important aspect of non-verbal communication?  Facial expressions.

So when it comes to networking, the face (and the expressions it makes) is at the top of the chart.  But what can we do with this information?  Barring plastic surgery, we are born with the face we have.  Of course, we know that grooming is important.  But probably of greater importance is enthusiasm and attitude.  What we feel inside definitely comes through in our expressions (sometimes even when we try to hide it!).  That means that you should strive to be a happy and energized person.  You should love what you do for a living and if you don’t love what you do for a living, you should consider doing something else!  The only people who really succeed for their business in networking are the ones who really believe in and are excited to talk about their business.  If you have ever spoken to someone who is not enthusiastic about their industry, you already know that it feels like that person is draining the energy right out of you.  Conversely, a person excited about what they do makes you excited too.  It’s contagious and much of that enthusiasm comes through our facial expressions.

With so much importance on the face, the other absolute necessity in business is getting a PROFESSIONAL headshot.  Not only should the picture be professionally taken, but you should look good and be smiling.  I remember seeing someone’s headshot and their face was scowling-just looking at the picture made you NOT want to do business with the man.

Regarding the headshot, you should post it in your social media channels and other appropriate areas.  Whether to have your headshot on your business card is up to you.  It can be great for networking in that it will help people remember who you are.  But the business card has limited space and if you have a nice logo for your business (plus the necessary contact info), there may not be room.  Also for some industries, like real estate, it is almost an expected practice.  It may be different in your industry.  One thing you need to do is to connect via social media with someone you meet networking- that is a great way to start to connect the name to the face.  And if they have a cartoon or a blank silhouette for their social media profile picture?  Well that may be a person you do not want to do business with.  Yes, it is that important.

So be well-groomed; be happy and enthusiastic in your expressions; and have a professional headshot done and uploaded to your social media profiles (and maybe your website or business cards).  Hey, if you really want to succeed in networking and business, the fact of the matter is you have to FACE IT!