The Art of Small Talk

Congratulations! You are at a networking event.  Did co-workers drag you here? Is the boss testing you out for a promotion?

Either way, here you are, drink in hand, hiding in the corner surrounded by people you don’t know.

Never fear! ‘Small talk’ can propel you to success in any business.

Too bad it is a skill few have mastered.

You can master the ‘art’ of small talk in 5 easy steps.

1) Just say, “Hi”. You are there to socialize. Unless you jump into a conversation about work, don’t try to break the ice with it. Be simple. “Hi, may name is Patricia, it’s good to meet you.” Polite parties in the vicinity should respond justly.

2) Start with something easy, about them. Everyone loves to talk about their favorite subject, themselves. Ask about an article of clothing they have on, or what they are drinking. I have yet to meet a person who has said, “no, I don’t like to talk about me.” Try to ask more questions then you answer.

3) Turn fear into energy. People like to be around energetic and positive people. Talking to a new person can be stressful, so your body releases endorphins. Endorphins create energy spikes. Instead of focusing on crushing nerves, use those opioid peptides to be positive.

4) Know when the conversation is over. Sometimes, it just doesn’t click. Acknowledge that moment. Say, “it was great to chat, thank you.” Shake their hand and wander back into the crowd. Nothing is more awkward than sticking around after a conversation that has clearly died.

5) Follow Up. If you met someone you think is worth keeping in touch with, do so. Everyone is busy, after a few days, names and faces drop off the map.  Send a quick email; find them on Linkedin, or even Facebook (I would suggest this only with peers).

Remember, it is not about what you said, it is about what people remember about you. The next day, no one will remember what you said. They will remember the conversation you crafted, “I remember Patricia, she was fun to chat with and her company makes x, I’ll be sure to remember her the next time I need those!”

It is that simple.

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