Tips For Making Small Talk

Tips for Making Small Talk

Here is an important thing to understand: Small talk is NOT about filling idle time with interesting things to say. Small talk is about getting the OTHER person to fill idle time with things to say and you genuinely finding interest in it. But what if you don’t like making small talk or don’t feel like you’re very good at it? Fear not! Below are three tips for making small talk.

The key to success in small talk is having a simple, reliable game plan. Try this one:

Step One: Ask A Question

Now, remember, the key is to get them talking, so you need to be ready with questions that are open-ended. “Isn’t this weather crazy?” will not cut it. “How does this crazy weather affect you?” just might.

Step Two: Listen … Really Listen

Take an interest in what they have to say, even if the subject is not particularly interesting to you. Why? First, you just might learn something, something that could help you or something that you can use to help them (which ultimately helps you).

Second, (and this is counter-intuitive) if you take an interest in them and whatever they have to say, they will find you to be a very interesting person. It may sound backward but it’s just human nature. People tend to like those who show a genuine interest in them.

Step Three: Summarize & Share

As a follow-up (to show you were really listening), summarize what you have heard and then share a little about the subject as it relates to you. “So, as an avid water skier, all this hot weather must be great for you. But I find that it kills my golf game.”

Finally, just like the instructions on the shampoo bottle – lather, rinse, repeat – ask another question. Perhaps one that’s related to the first question or maybe some other tangent you would like to explore based on what they said in their answer. For example, “So, if you ski when the weather is hot, how do you occupy yourself when it is too cold to take to the lake?” Whatever, the case, keep them talking.

How Does Small Talk Create Networking Bonds?

How Does Small Talk Create Networking Bonds?

Before you write off small talk as a waste of time, think about this question. How does small talk create networking bonds?

Think about it. How did you feel the last time you were at an event and someone started talking “brass tacks” right off the bat? “Who does your printing? Are you happy? I can do better. Give me a chance. Throw me some business. Well, why not?” If you’re like me, you were probably planning your exit strategy; some way to move on from this pushy salesperson.

Successful networking is built on small talk. It is through small talk that people gain an understanding of:

  • Who you are
  • What interests you
  • How you spend your time

And you learn the same about them. As an analogy, small talk is like the warm-up you do before you really get into the workout. And it is the foundation of the KNOW in Know, Like & Trust.

It is also the foundation upon which people gain a sense as to whether they LIKE you. In fact, social science and brain studies have shown that in the few minutes where chitchat is happening, people even start to formulate a sense as to whether or not they TRUST you.

So the next time you’re at an event, invest some quality time in small talk and start to create those networking bonds.

Relationships Trump Knowledge

Relationships Trump Knowledge

As a businessperson, you need things today, like clients, information, and contacts. Guess what? You are going to need those things tomorrow, too. And the next day, and next week, and next year. And where will these things come from? One word – Relationships. Thus, creating and nurturing productive relationships is an ongoing endeavor. Your job is never done. 

Know this: Some days your networking efforts are going to seem worthwhile. On these days, it will be easy to keep after it. Other days your networking efforts are going to seem like a complete waste of time. On these days, you will want to swear it off. Don’t!

Have faith. Opportunity comes from the most unlikely places and it is all the result of the productive relationships you nurture over time. So, never quit trying to build Know, Like, and Trust.

To summarize, while knowledge is important to be successful at anything, what is vital is being proficient at networking. Networking is about building solid relationship where people know you, like you, and trust you. These things are achieved through certain actions and interactions with those in your network. These actions involve consistent generosity, reliability, and commitment to others, just to mention a few.

Make New Connections but Keep the Old

Make New Connections but Keep the Old

Whether you are 19, 90, or somewhere in between, you know more people now than you could possibly meet over the next year (maybe two or three).  Think about it. You know people in your community. You know people from high school, college, and your plethora of career moves (or those moving careers around you). You know people through your kids, parents, or family. You know lots of people.

While meeting new people is always an important part of networking, there is a tremendous advantage to networking with familiar names and faces – they already Know, Like and Trust you. That is a tremendous head start to productive and effective networking.

Given that, an important part of building your business or career network is to dig into your “now electronic” Rolodexes, card files, or little black books and mind your existing contacts. Reconnect with these old friends and acquaintances. Get caught up on their lives. Think of ways you can help them. Share with them about your professional endeavors. Remember to ask for assistance.

The “Know, Like, and Trust” is already there. All you need to do is capitalize on it.