The Six Commandments of Sock-Charming

I spoke at a seminar this week about Networking…in fact it was called, “Marketing Through Networking” and frankly, I was amazed at how many folks truly felt that this is one topic you just can’t learn enough about.  One of my attendees (in fact, the SPONSOR of the event….thank you Howard of said…’this really ought to be the topic of your next blog post’. So here it is;

My take on Networking is simple.  You are marketing yourself at every single moment. And while you can’t necessarily control what people are going to think of you, or how they’ll react to any given statement that you make, you CAN control how YOU make them feel while THEY are talking.

I call these the “Sock-Charming Tactics”.  That simply means – little things you can do to make sure someone feels appreciated and listened to while they are speaking to you.  In other words, there are ways of charming people’s socks off…even when they’re the ones doing the talking.

As we discuss these sock-charming tactics, remember…this discussion is not about you. It’s about how you’re making others feel while they converse with you.


  1. The Eyebrow Flash – The gem of ‘Interested  Conversation’. Ever speak to someone who does nothing but stare with non-descript expression?  Be sure that YOU’RE not “that guy”. Give people an indication, even if simply with minor eyebrow fluctuation, that you are A) listening and B) interested. You don’t have to be a master at moving those brows…just raise them from time to time if someone says something that warrants a change of expression.  Often times, people give their best networking-shot by telling stories that may or may not be as funny to you as they are intended to be. You don’t have to feign being at a comedy show – No Insincerity Please –  just acknowledge the attempt and raise those brows with a smile. You can make someone feel like a RockStar if you just wear “surprise face” in the right place.
  2. The Affirmation Nod – Along with acknowledging someone’s train of thought, comes the ever popular nod.  This simply CANNOT be overused. People love to know that “I’m right there with you”. Sprinkle in an “MmHmm” and an “Oh yea” every now & again and you have yourself a dual conversation, even if they’re the ones in the spotlight for the moment. The give and take from an effective affirmation nod can make the difference between feel spoken to and feeling embraced by the conversation.
  3. Open Arm Gestures – We’ve all heard about the open-arms versus closed-arms approach at a boardroom table or a seminar.  Have you given much thought to what your arms are doing at a networking function?  Closed hands and folded arms are a typical body language faux pas, as they are said to indicate a “closed” personality or mood. Realistically however, at networking functions we are often strapped with a glass or a small plate of hors d’oeuvres, indeed – but this is not an excuse for presenting yourself in a closed manner. Consider keeping your right hand open (at all times) for shaking and keep them in front of yourself, in full view of your conversation partner.  No fists, no hand on the hip, no hand behind the back.  Hands in the pocket can be a great way to appear casual and approachable, but be sure to take them out BEFORE a hand is extending in friendly greeting.  You’ll seem more inviting that way.
  4. No Baggage Onboard – OMG can you remember to leave it at home already?! There’s nothing worse in a networking setting than asking a simple “how are things going?” and getting a reply that sounds like a dissertation in Negative Nuances. If the dog peed on the rug and it made you SO late that you were pulled over for speeding and spilled your coffee on your lap while merging into the shoulder, either make it funny or keep it to yourself.  Nothing kills a conversation more than someone that has only negative things to say.  We all have baggage – choose when and with whom to bring it up.
  5. Avoiding the Mirror Technique – Contrary to popular belief, mirroring the voice level or mannerisms of the person you’re conversing with can backfire.  If you’re speaking with a quiet type and you mirror their docile speaking pattern, they may be temporarily placated by your similar softness.  But if you take the same approach and next mirror someone who is boisterous and energetic, you’d better be sure that never the two shall meet.  Pick a personality and stick with it.  Be yourself.
  6. Promoting Partners – Nothing makes you look better than promoting those around you.  The best way I’ve found to make a good impression on others is to avoid talking about myself altogether. When introducing someone else, sing their praises (but only if you really mean it – authenticity is key). Comment on their business, their successes or their unfaltering habit of {…insert humorous compliment here…}. Making someone else look good serves to take the focus off of you, allows you to appear humble and creates an atmosphere of interaction.  Not to mention that most folks will genuinely want to return the favor, leaving you to focus on learning about each other rather than talking about yourself. Wallah!

We all want to do business with people we like. Ultimately we need to be ourselves while leaving a lasting impression. Give something for people to remember you by…even if you’ve left them without their socks on!