Whew… you’ve introduced yourself at a networking event.
Now what do you say?!
You made a random comment about the weather, and now you’re fumbling around for another topic.
Panic sets in.
If this is you, don’t let small talk stop you.
Here are some small talk lessons from an introvert
They’re not all shy, reserved, crowd-avoiding people.
Some introverts are great networkers, and they’re expert in one thing - overcoming that awkward silence that stops networking before it starts. And the introverts who've mastered networking, mastered small talk.
Small talk is anything but small.
Small talk does more than put people at ease. It’s the common ground that takes the edge off of engaging with people we don't know, and can be a huge competitive advantage.
So what makes some introverts great small talkers?
Small talk doesn’t come naturally for introverts, so they make up for it in preparation.
Here's advice from Navin Battu, entrepreneur and corporate manager.
Before any networking session Navin preps and has a couple of small talk topics ready. Here’s what he researches:
News you can use.
Scan a range of topics from different media such as TMZ, Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine, Fortune Magazine, CNN and headlines from today's news. Don’t worry about being an expert, you just need a variety of conversation starters.
Then after you introduce yourself, don't fumble for something to say. Instead ask, “What do you think about…” And fill in the topic.
If the person is familiar - you just started a conversation.
If the person isn’t, then respond with, “I usually skim ’____ publication.' How do you stay current on the news?”
People you may meet and greet.
Take a few minutes to identify some folks who may be at the function. Think how you might make a connection. Look them up on Facebook and LinkedIn, review their interests, and see if you share any contacts.
When you meet the person, you can say:
“I think we both know so-and-so. How do you know him?”
“I came across your name recently. I read a post you published on LinkedIn, and I really like that point of view…”
“How are you? I believe someone mentioned you to me - you are an expert on… “
Now you’re ready to chat with with a variety of people on a variety of topics.
When you meet people you don't know, drop in the names of contacts you have in common or ask about their interests. Ask your new contact what they've heard about a specific topic in today's news.
You can comfortably engage in any conversation.
Don't be ill at ease, put people at ease.
Then small talk your way to success.
Not quite ready for small talk? Still looking for networking tips? Relax, we’ve got you covered.
Check out the The Career Toolbox page for more practical tips and tools.
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