Small talk is a must-have skill when trying to get a job. Networking is essential and learning the art of small talk will build your confidence and make them remember you.
In this post, you will learn tools that will help you approach any social or networking setting with confidence.
First, you must say goodbye to shyness. You need to be open to talking to anyone! You will feel uncomfortable and a little weird, but that is part of the process of changing your normal behavior and stretching out of your comfort zone. This skill will allow you to meet more people, find more opportunities and become more successful.
Use online resources to find events, and give yourself goals for those events. Here’s how to turn your small talk conversations into job offers.
So why do people small talk?
Very simply, it builds a bridge. By exchanging basic information through light and casual conversation, you can connect with anyone, no matter who they are and where they are from. In a short amount of time, just by asking, you can learn the basics about someone. From there, you can quickly get to know someone on a personal level by finding out what they enjoy doing and identify mutual interests. I’ve done this with people from all over the world and frequently attend international events because I love identifying these “bridges.” Sometimes the most random, obscure connections can produce amazing links to people who live on the other side of the world. You need to understand, though, that small talk is different in every country. Each culture has its own manner of engaging in small talk, and most importantly, its own topics which are considered appropriate and inappropriate.
Why is small talk important in a business environment?
First and foremost, it displays your communication skills, which are important to any employer. Employers look for people who can converse effectively with others because employees often work on teams. It also demonstrates your level of confidence. If you can start a conversation with anyone, you will make a lasting impression. This skill will open up new business opportunities, new friends and even assist you in the dating game. Being good at small talk is one of the most important skills for your personal and career development.
Building Personal Connections
Remember, out of all of those reasons to engage in small talk, the most fundamental is to build personal connections quickly. Always be focused on others and how you can help them. By quickly asking other people about their interests and encouraging them to talk, you facilitate the relationship. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and usually won’t run out of things to say. From there, it’s your job to find a mutual interest. I strongly believe that people can build a personal connection in five minutes or less as long as a mutual interest is present. With practice you will be able to do this with anyone, even the most important CEO.
What do you talk about?
When you start a conversation with someone you’ve never met, it’s important to begin with light topics―topics that couldn’t possibly start an argument or cause controversy. Your goal of every conversation should be to find that mutual interest, something that you can use to build a connection with this stranger (and not antagonize him). Too often, I observe people walk directly up to another person and say, “Hi, what do you do for work?” It is best not to start a conversation this way. You can discuss professions, perhaps not right at the start. People hear that question all the time, and it isn’t that memorable. Try to discuss something more fun and personal.
Any of these topics are appropriate small talk topics to discuss with Americans:
You might think that these topics are more useful for social settings when you’re trying to make friends, but it’s not true. Talking about these topics at professional events is normal and a great way to form a business connection.
There are many other topics but those are some ideas to start you off with. I especially suggest that you try discussing your travel stories. Most people enjoy traveling, be it to their cabin in the summer, or to exotic foreign cities. In that vein, any stories from abroad will be new and interesting to most and provide them with useful information.
Today I want you to walk up to someone you’ve never talked to before and say, “Hi, my name is “name”. I’m planning my next vacation and was just wondering what your favorite place in the world is.” Comment below with the results. Also, stay tuned for the second half of this post coming soon.
Michael Miller is the author of 4 Weeks To Your American Dream Job and the founder of Culture Adapt, a career education and consulting firm focused on international business people who are eager to work in the USA.