How to Master the Art of Small Talk

Small talk is designed to give people a chance to network, creating a bridge to conversations about opportunities. When aiming to network, small talk puts people at ease, draws them into conversation, and creates a comfort zone so that you can build a relationship with them:

  • Create a small-talk Top 10 list. Identify five things that you enjoy talking about and can talk about easily. List five subjects that you don’t know much about but would enjoy learning about from others.

  • Listen to what people say and how they respond. Attentive listening is critical to small talk. Through listening, you know what to say to generate connection and rapport.

  • Be curious. Curiosity keeps you attentive. Be curious about who people are both as individuals and as businesspeople.

    Don’t be curious to the point where you become annoying or make people uncomfortable.

  • Look for common interests. Sharing experiences or interests with a person gives you a bond and fuels your conversation.

  • Be interested. Your interest encourages other people to talk openly with you. Being interested in other people is often the key that unlocks their personality.

  • Remember that small talk can lead to a connection. Small talk lays the groundwork for a connection. Through eye contact, a friendly tone of voice, and topics that are appealing, you can develop an ever-deepening sense of relatedness and connection.

  • Keep throwing out topics until something clicks. If someone doesn’t respond to your conversation right away, don’t assume that he or she isn't interested. Keep trying! When a topic clicks, it triggers a connection within the other person.

  • Participate in the conversation. When people are attempting to talk with you, respond with more than one or two words.

  • Put people at ease. Make people feel comfortable, allow them to relax and enjoy a casual conversation with you. Don’t attempt to teach, preach, or impress.

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