4 ways to be more approachable

If you’re shy, standoffish, awkward or all three, it will put a damper on your ability to get ahead. Try these tips from Barbara Pachter to let your guard down a little and be more approachable.

1. Get off your phone if you have the opportunity to interact in person. Having your phone out during a meeting, even just sitting on the table, tells the other person that you are waiting for something more important to interrupt. Similarly, walking down the hall or into a building on your phone will signal to others that you cannot be bothered. These are times when you should be meeting others, not engrossed with your phone.

2. Use your phone judiciously when you can’t meet face to face. Don’t rely solely on email, text or instant messaging. Pick up the phone and have an actual conversation from time to time. When the other person is speaking, interject a question or agreement every so often so they know you’re listening.

3. Take notes with pen and paper. Taking notes on a laptop means you’ll have the screen up, blocking your colleague and drawing your focus away. Pen and paper are less intrusive and you can always type up the notes later.

4. Mingle with people before presentations, keynotes and other events. Build your network and make an effort to meet new people. It helps to have some small-talk topics in mind beforehand. Keep up-to-date on issues in your industry so you have enough information to get a conversation started.

— Adapted from “It’s Not Rocket Science! 10 Ways to Connect and Engage With People,” Barbara Pachter, Pachter’s Pointers blog.