How to Small Talk ~ Easy Guide to Social Networking

How to Small Talk ~ Easy Guide to Social Networking

Everyone is exposed to situations where they need to make small talk.  It happens all the time in business and in personal situations too.  Some areas I’ve made small talk just in the past 7 days:

  • Baseball game with clients and staff
  • Garden party celebrating our company’s 40th anniversary (btw Hudson Gardens is a beautiful venue!)
  • Back to school, parent education night
  • School bus stop with other parents

It’s been a busy week!

There are a couple of tips and tricks for situations like these.

  1. When you are introduced to someone, try to say their name 2 or 3 times.  It helps you to remember it and not have to do that very embarrassing – “What was your name again?” just a few minutes after they just told you.  So, it would go like this…”Greg?  Nice to meet you Greg.  Are you enjoying yourself tonight Greg?”
  2. If someone gives you a business card – take the time to LOOK at it!  It is inconsiderate to not look at their information when they have handed it to you.  Looking at the card and commenting on their title, or something else, shows interest.  Then once you are alone, jot down notes on the back of the card to help you remember the face with the name and any relevant information.
  3. Use the house method if you are stymied for topics to discuss.  This was explained to me on a white board with stick figures drawn in as each topic was explained.  It goes something like this…
  • Draw a house in your mind.   The house symbolizes “So where are you from Greg?, Really, what part of town do you live in?”
  • The next step is to draw stick figures of people in the front yard.  “So Greg, do you have any kids?  Grandkids?”  Kids and dogs usually spur a lengthy discussion!
  • After the people, then you start to add props, such as a soccer ball.  “Do you play any sports Greg?  Golf?  Mountain biking?”  Whatever seems appropriate to the person you are talking to.  But in general, this question is finding out about their passions and leisure activities.
  • Once you’ve completed the front yard, move onto the sky and draw an airplane.  “Greg, any vacations lined up?  Going anywhere special this year?”

It’s likely that you won’t make it through these four conversation starters.  One of the first ones is likely to snag the other person’s attention and start the conversation flowing.  However, it is always comforting to have backups just in case!!

What about you?  Any tips you have that work for you?  Comments on etiquette for these types of things?

Beyond The Rack

7 Responses to How to Small Talk ~ Easy Guide to Social Networking

  1. Great plan! It’s easy to either ramble or to hit a dead end if you don’t have a plan. This is a great visual for covering a few topics if needed. Along with repeating the name a few times, I like to make a memorable, visual connection, a trigger, if possible.

    • Yep, Brian, I forgot that one. One of the things that I’ve been told is to make a rhyme in your head with their name and something that reminds you. “Greg is so tall, hope he doesn’t fall.” It doesn’t matter if it’s dorky, just memorable to you. (I don’t recommend saying it outloud :D )

  2. That’s very helpful. Small talk is not one of my strong points! We have a company wide event (including spouses) coming up next month and this will be very useful! As one of the few females in my company, I usually get left with the spouses, so lots of ladies I don’t know..

  3. I’m bookmarking this post (and possibly typing into my iPhone) because I’m a disaster socially. Way way shy and just can’t seem to connect with people – even those I somewhat know! I’m not afraid of public speaking but tell me there’s party or get-together coming up and GAH! I will try to be sick. Now I have a strategy to cope. Thank you.

    • I hope it helps! I don’t get quite as anxious as it sounds like you do, but every once in awhile things feel stilted or just aren’t flowing and this visual helps me get past it…

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