Small talk, cocktail chatter, kibitzing – it’s the communication basic for professional networking. A lot of people confess that they are not very good at it. When we don’t think we are very good at something, we tend to be uncomfortable when engaging in that activity. When we are uncomfortable and don’t think we are very good at something, we tend to either avoid it completely, talk on and on about things that hold no interest for anyone else, or go to the sales pitch as soon as we are introduced.
Great networkers know that shooting the breeze EFFECTIVELY is strategic and focused. Small talk can be used to help develop a team, create and strengthen your relationship with colleagues, obtain leverage to help secure support, engage a new connection, or simply make your relationships more pleasant.
If you enjoy the art of making conversation, it is probably because you like learning about other people. But there are a lot people out there who enjoy hearing themselves talk!
There is nothing wrong with talking about yourself, especially if someone asks but if you want to harness the power of small talk and enhance your relationships or improve the work environment here is my two cents: give up listening to yourself and begin learning about others.
How can you engage others? Start by reducing the number of declarative sentences you say and increase the number of questions you ask. Shift from “Hey Dave! I just saw the new Mission Impossible movie last weekend,” to “Dave! Do you like movies?”
You already know what you like, what you don’t like, and what you know. Rather than use up valuable air time repeating what you already know, use small talk to learn something new. If knowledge is power then the more you know about Dave, the stronger your basis for communication with him.
Small talk allows you to learn the wants, needs, goals, desires, thoughts and hot buttons of the people that you work with and the folks with whom you want to work. The more you know about these people, the more effectively you can communicate with them.
It is to your advantage to appeal to the self-interest of others and small talk is the vehicle that can help you learn about what is interesting