This week I will have been out more trying to connect with people I don’t know (yet) than talking to people I know well (or live with!) Small talk, cocktail chatter, kibitzing – this is the communication staple of networking. Many people confess that they are not very good at it and so they end up either avoiding it completely, talking on and on about things that hold no interest for anyone, or making a sales pitch as soon as they are introduced.
Shooting the breeze EFFECTIVELY is strategic and focused. You can use small talk to help develop a team, create and strengthen your relationship with colleagues, obtain leverage to help secure support, 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 many people enjoy hearing themselves talk! (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) But if you want to harness the power of small talk and enhance your relationships or improve the work environment you will have to give up listening to yourself and begin learning about others.
Reduce the amount of declarative sentences you say and increase the number of questions you ask. Shift from “Hey Donna! I just saw the new Scorsese movie over the weekend,” to “Donna! Do you like movies?”
You already know what you like and don’t like. 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 Donna, the stronger your basis for communication with her.
Small talk allows you to learn the wants, needs, goals, desires, thoughts, and hot buttons of the people with whom you work, and those with whom you want to work with in the future. The more you know about these folks, 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 their self interest.
The most intersting line I heard this week?
“That’s a terrific picture of you on your website. Do you really look like that?”
See how much fun networking can be?!