October 23, 2014

Your Smile is Worth a Thousand Words

smile networking

We meet so many people in our business activities at events, conferences, meetings, workshops and even randomly.

I have found that if I invite and attract someone to me by my energy, attitude and self confidence all wrapped up in a big, warm smile and a firm handshake, it’s worth a thousand words.

I don’t know why more people don’t smile.  I understand the fear of meeting new people and being at events with a large crowd where they may not know people. It’s daunting and scary. It is for me too sometimes, and I consider myself very good at this. But I have had to work on it – and through it.

I find that if I go into networking and meeting with people from a neutral, fun position rather than with an agenda, things turn out the best. Using the power of a smile can be a secret weapon and superpower. It’s everyone’s.

The power of a smile is transformative and we all have that power when we smile. Turns out, there is a science behind smiling that begins in the brain. Once the smiling muscles in the face contract, there is a positive feedback loop that goes back to the brain and reinforces our feeling of joy:

“Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

Our brain can even distinguish between a real smile and a fake smile, and it’s all in our eyes when we smile. Your brain keeps track of your smiles, kind of like a smile scorecard. It knows how often you’ve smiled and which overall emotional state you are in.

Studies have shown how smiling reduces stress, increases our overall health, well being and attitude. Below are a few things that can help you get your smile on more – especially in business.

Smile Networking

Use Your Imagination

Imagine and think about happy, joyful experiences and situations before you go to events. Set up your mindset before you attend.

Researcher Andrew Newberg says:

“We just ask a person, before they engage in a conversation with someone else, visualize someone they deeply love, or recall an event that brought them deep satisfaction and joy. It’s such an easy exercise, and we train people to do it in our workshops.”

Practice Smiling in a Mirror

As silly as this sounds – is as effective as it can be. Practicing smiling with yourself can get you through some of the fear that makes you uncomfortable with smiling at others. Try going through the day and smiling a lot to everyone and everything. You’ll be amazed at how it is reciprocated.

Get Comfortable Drawing People Towards You

Smiling is magnetic and it’s a conversation starter. People who smile are kind of intriguing and magnetic to me. I find myself wondering what they are smiling about, and isn’t that a great conversation starter:

“What’s making you smile today?”

Researcher LaFrance concluded that overall, women smile a lot more than men. She says:

“In general women are more accurate than men in detecting what is really going on with someone by looking at their face and listening to their voice. Women are more likely to tell the difference between a felt and a fake smile.”

I bicycle regularly and have started smiling at other riders, walkers and runners that I pass on the trail I ride on much more. Turns out, they are more than willing to smile back, give me a head nod or a thumbs up.

At business events, I am naturally drawn to people who are smiling and enjoying themselves. When I use the power of my smile, it not only puts people at ease, and gives them an opening for a conversation, but people who smile at me – I am much more inclined to engage with.

Your smile is worth a thousand words. Trust it and use it as much as you can – it’s your superpower.

Smile Photo via Shutterstock

8 Comments ▼

Deborah Shane


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane is a past staff writer for Small Business Trends covering marketing, branding and social media topics. She is a Top 100 Small Business Champion, career transition consultant, personal branding strategist and social media specialist. Deborah hosts her Top 100 Small Business Podcast weekly. Her book #trusthewhy Fundamentals, Values and Humor Get You Through Anything and award winning "Career Transition: Make the Shift" (2011) are available through all major book sellers.

8 Reactions

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Smiling is one of the easiest things to do so that your first impression is a good one.

  2. A smile is a beautiful start to a conversation. It’s the way souls handshake.

    I like the tips. I think, along with thinking of happy memories, it might sometimes help to think about something you’re really looking forward to – a happy memory that will occur in the near future, like a booked holiday, for instance.

    • Ebele, how poetic, “how souls handshake”. Love the looking forward to a booked holiday! Something or someone that has made me laugh also makes me smile, when I think about it.

      • I’ve booked many holidays in my time, both imaginary and real! Calms the nerves as well as being smile inducing.

        re: a smile to your face by something/someone that previously made you laugh — yes, I can imagine that it would. Good idea too. :-)

  3. This is so true; I agree with Ebele a smile can definitely break the ice in many business meetings /conversations.
    It is the one way along with direct eye contact the souls shake hands. Its a great way to ‘ break the ice ‘.
    Thank you for that Deborah.

    @colettesmithmps

    • Thanks Colette for stopping by. I find it amazing how a simple, sincere little smile that radiates from the eyes as well can be so transformative with people. It can switch a mood, or fear immediately.

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