Approach Networking Like an Anthropologist (and Celebrate Black History Month at the Same Time)

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Black History Month, Zora Neale Hurston, African American anthropologists, networking, event networking, meeting networking
Zora Neale Hurston

Anthropologists have studied societies and their cultural developments for centuries.

Today, those studies can be applied to networking at events, with several social queues to be taken from societal advancements. In honor of Black History Month, here’s a list of five networking tips gleaned from the work conducted by famous 20th century African American anthropologists.

Make Connections Beforehand

St. Clair Drake helped lay the groundwork for the pan-African movement, strengthening bonds of solidarity between all people of African descent. One way to strengthen bonds at events is by making connections beforehand. Sending a quick email or social media request to people before attending an event will give you an icebreaker to talk about and allow people to already get to know your name and face.

Don’t Worry About “Selling Yourself”

Zora Neale Hurston pioneered the efforts of preserving African American oral tradition. This effort to keep traditions authentic can be applied to networking. Too often, individuals believe that networking is about self promotion, but it is actually about developing beneficial relationships with professionals. In order to do that, you need to remain authentic and personable.

Read the Room

Dr. Louis Eugene King shed light on selective migration, when a culture or race moves to a new region to live. Studying how people stand and move together is also important at events. Shyer attendees can apply the 1-2-3 rule by approaching people who are standing by themselves first because they will be the most welcoming. Body language will also play an important role when approaching groups of two and three. Two people standing in a V formation, for instance, will be more willing to welcome newcomers as opposed to people standing directly across from one another.

Use Good Body Language

Katherine Dunham was a leader in the field of dance anthropology and was known by many to be the “queen mother of black dance,” finding success as the director of her own dance company and even developing the Dunham Technique. Her influence on the dance community is a good reminder of how powerful body language can be. A simple smile, good posture and positive attitude are extremely beneficial when trying to invite others to come talk to you at an event.

Pay It Forward

William Allison Davis devoted most of his studies to helping create unfair bias in the U.S. educational system, ensuring that everyone get equal opportunities. His studies about caste and class in the south led to major improvements in quality of education for all. Like Davis, attendees need to pay it forward when they’ve found their footing at events. Not only will introducing people to one another allow you to become less self conscious, it will help build trust from others.

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