Know what to say in a social situation―and how to use small talk.
For some people making small talk can be challenging. If you want to make new friends and advance in your career, learn to connect with others through small talk.
Here are 3 simple steps for striking up conversation and making the most of networking events:
Preparation Before A Networking Event
1. Have a few topics of conversation prepared. Stay current with community and world events. Offer sincere compliments if you like someone’s hat or if you know that they recently won an award.
2. Rehearse answers to common questions. Practice your responses to questions that you hear all the time.
3. Check your body language. Above all, try to relax.
Basic Communication Principles
1. Greet people. Let your greetings make a good first impression. Take the initiative to say hello and offer your name. Smile and shake hands. Repeat the other person’s name so you’ll be more likely to remember it.
2. Ask open-ended questions. Keep the dialogue flowing with open-ended questions.
3. Practice active listening. Give people your full attention and show your enthusiasm. Turn off your cell phone or at least put it on vibrate if you have to take urgent calls.
4. Enter group conversations. If everyone’s already engaged, you can still find opportunities to be included. When you see two people talking, check first to avoid interrupting something personal. With larger groups, discreetly wait until there’s an opening to make an appropriate comment.
5. Keep it brief. Leave people wanting more. Learn to excuse yourself tactfully by mentioning that you need to speak with someone or get something to eat. Let people know that you appreciated meeting them or hope to see them again soon.
Special Tips for Networking Events
1. Take advantage of easy icebreakers. Networking events are designed for meeting people, so seize the opportunity.
2. Ask for information if you’re a newcomer. If it’s your first time, ask others for their guidance. Many people will be flattered to share their knowledge.
3. Offer assistance if you’re a veteran. Therefore if you’re already familiar with the organization, help newcomers feel at home.
4. Exchange introductions. Broaden your network by identifying people you want to meet and mutual colleagues who can help introduce you.
5. Share business cards. When you’ve had a promising conversation, use your business cards to help make a lasting connection. Offer your card and reiterate any specific reason for staying in touch. When someone gives you their card, use the back to jot down any details you need to remember.
For example get comfortable with schmoozing.
Therefore improving your small talk skills will help you build your self-confidence and broaden your social and business networks.