Getting ready for big conferences like Microsoft Inspire is more than practical preparation - it's also about mental preparation.

Going to conferences is very much about connecting and networking. Actually, the success and financial and strategic benefit of the conference depends on the people you connect with and the quality of the relations you build while at the event.

However, there are many ways to connect. It all comes down to an active choice. Is your approach serious, energetic, cautious or other? Being aware of how you approach people is your first step to getting the most out of events such as Inspire. What you give will come back to you.

You've heard it before: connecting with a smile as your go-to choice can have a huge impact; on your own mood, energy level and conference success..

You can really benefit from a smile and that it can influence your achievements sense of happiness and the opportunities presented to you when attending a conference like Microsoft Inspire.

1. Endorphins are released when you smile

According to Jennifer Smith in her post 7 Benefits of Smiling and Laughing You Didn't Know About, "Endorphins are triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face, which is interpreted by your brain, which in turn releases these chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for making you feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels. Faking a smile or laugh works as well as the real thing—the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. This is known as the facial feedback hypothesis. The more you stimulate our brain to release this chemical the more often you feel happy and relaxed."

2. Smiling is contagious

In a paper published last year, by Adrienne Wood, a Ph.D. student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, detailed research shows that people unconsciously mimic facial expressions when trying to understand them. From her report entitled Fashioning the Face:"When we observe a facial expression of emotion, we often mimic it... When people simulate a perceived facial expression, they partially activate the corresponding emotional state in themselves, which provides a basis for inferring the underlying emotion of the expresser."

In short, when you see a facial expression such as a smile displayed by  someone else, your brain automatically begins calculating how to interpret it and to formulate the appropriate social response to it. In so doing, however, our facial muscles unconsciously mimic the same expression and end up triggering that same emotional state.

3. Smiling makes you appear more approachable and trustworthy

So now that you know that a smile from you will automatically elicit an unconscious smile from anyone you come in contact with, is it any wonder that we generally find people who smile more approachable? (And, conversely, how we can all too easily influence  others with a bad mood.) The good news here is that even if you're a natural introvert, you absolutely can be that charming, magnetic person who draws people to them.

And appearing approachable and trustworthy is highly important at events like conferences, where attendees' senses are bombarded with sound, images and event scents, all vying for their attention. With a smile, you can welcome that new prospect or important lead into your happy world. 

What if I don't feel like smiling?

This begs an important question: what if I don't feel like smiling? Won't my smile look fake?

If you're not comfortable "faking it 'til you make it," here are a few tips to help bring a smile to your face:

  • Do what makes you happy. If you're happiest surrounded by family, make sure you spend some time with them before you leave for Inspire or whatever event you are attending. Kiss your spouse; play with your kids; walk the dog. Getting your base happiness in line before you leave will make it easier to feel happy and pick a smile at the event.
  • Track your happiness. There is a fabulous not-for-profit research project made into an app called Track Your Happiness that is asking tens of thousands of test subjects to rate their happiness level at various points throughout their days. While the app isn't designed specifically to increase your happiness but rather to gather data for research, it will help you to be more mindful of when, where and under what circumstances you do report being happy. And that insight can help you to be more aware of daily actions you can take to increase your happiness.
  • When all else fails, watch cat videos. If you're just not feeling the endorphins, never fear! Watching cute cat videos, funny TV shows or even parody videos on your favorite  site can instantly uplift your mood. I dare you not to give a smile after watching this video "When you're in the sea and feel something touching your leg".

Come smile with us at booth #2310 at Microsoft Inspire,

Anne

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