The Art of Making Small Talk

In the world of business, it is imperative to network in order to promote your business as well as finding others you can joint venture with. The possibilities are endless in the amount of groups and associations you can find. However, not everyone is comfortable with making small talk which could prevent them from opportunities out there.

This is especially true for some personality types, such as introverts, who don’t like small talk or crowds. If one worries about how they will come across to others, this can be terror-filled: What if I don’t have anything to say? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I get rejected?

Becoming a master of networking involves making small talk with others; this is what puts them at ease and helps to make connections that could lead to friendships or doing business together. As a high extrovert, I don’t have any problems in putting myself out there and connecting with others so it’s hard to understand how someone doesn’t want to learn more about others, as I’ve met some really interesting people along the way. It reminds me of an early job I had in a marketing role where I had to visit doctor’s office  and hospitals; I was terrified at that time of making ‘cold call’s but I learned from a seasoned marketer on how to get the in, mainly using small talk to find a commonality with the staff.

If you are wanting/needing to do more networking to promote your business, here are some tips to help you learn how to be more effective:

  • Before you attend the meeting, know your audience; often times the group will post the list of attendees so look at their profiles and see if you align with anyone. Also, come up with at least three topics or questions you could talk about, such as something they’re wearing like a tie or a piece of jewelry. Be observant to find commonalities to connect.
  • Be the first to say hello and introduce yourself; look for others who are on the outer edges of the room as they may prefer more intimate, 1:1 conversations. I met a great friend this way – she was standing alone and I approached her – it turned out we had so much in common in our backgrounds and education that led to our long-standing friendship even though she lives in another State.
  • Be prepared with your introduction, which would include your name and what you do. Having a compelling tag line or brand will help to get the conversation going. Focus on other person – make it about them, not you; be interested not interesting. Maintain good eye contact with them, not looking at others. Be a listener – nod and smile which lets the other party know you are engaged in the conversation.
  • Be goal-directed: come up with 3-5 goals you have for the meeting: the number of people you will connect with that are in alignment with your business or interests; meeting a particular person you know will be at the meeting; or meeting someone who is in your same line of work. Another goal may be to serve on a committee or to become a speaker for a future meeting.  Having a goal will keep you more engaged in the meeting.
  • Be relaxed and have fun; there are most likely a whole lot more attendees who feel the way you do. The more you do, the easier it becomes and that is where mastery comes in. Soon, you’ll lose the worries about how you appear and enjoy the new relationships (and business) you’ve acquired. You’ll have mastered the art of small talk.

If you’d like help on being a more effective networker and master the art of small talk, contact me at Let’s talk!


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