by Jon Bradshaw | February 11, 2016

jonathan bradshawWhile networking at a business event is just the beginning of what can be a lasting connection. But that doesn’t happen without some effort. Here are four nuggets from our research archive that should help you do just that.

1. Remember a name

Having a good memory for names is an important skill and, while behavioral science doesn’t offer a specific solution, memory expert Bob Gray ( uses psychological techniques when he advises on how best to remember the people you meet.

Bob advises listening for your contact’s name and, if possible, asking them to repeat it to be clear on pronunciation. He then suggests using their name at least once in the conversation and when you leave. After meeting, he recommends spelling their name out in your head numerous times, creating a ridiculous/humorous image linked to it, and then regularly reviewing their business card to help the name and affiliation enter your long-term memory.

2. Highlight a similarity

Social psychologists have found that we tend to feel especially positive toward people with whom we have something in common. When meeting someone at a business event, try to find genuine similarities between the two of you. For example, your children might share the same name, or you might work in the same industry or share a favorite author, holiday destination, shop or even your horoscope sign.

Psychology suggests that doing so can help us connect far more quickly, as finding similarities acts as a shortcut to building rapport and connectivity.

3. Mirror those you meet

As well as highlighting actual similarities, mirroring people verbally as well as physically has also been shown to have a positive impact on how we connect.

It might sound a bit odd, and it certainly takes practice, but in studies, mirroring others’ language (speed, tone, vocabulary) as well as physical stance and even breathing rate has resulted in people being rated as more likable. However I’d advise you to make a few "dry runs" with close friends and family before you try it for real, as it can take a while to master.

4. Make a mistake

I’ll finish by touching on something we all will have done — screw up. Yes, maybe you’ll forget a client’s name, spill a drink or lose your train of thought halfway through a conversation at the next event you attend. Well, should this occur, psychology can help, as research suggests that making a mistake is often not as much of an issue as it might seem to you.

I’m not really suggesting you make a mistake on purpose, but, based on the fact that similarities help us bond, it’s worth remembering that everyone makes mistakes, and research has shown that when people witness someone else doing so, they have reported increased levels of empathy.

Jonathan Bradshaw is the CEO if the Meetology Lab, which helps maximize personal and professional performance by using cutting–edge psychology to empower people with exceptional interpersonal communication skills.