Networking is a crucial part of professional success. The ability to meet and connect with potential customers and professional connections is one of the keys to growth in the business world. However, networking is more complicated than just meeting others in your field and introducing yourself and your services. People are more likely to connect with individuals whom they find pleasant. Using the art of small talk to establish a more human, personal connection can lead to deeper, more successful professional connections. Take a look at our three simple tips below to help you master the art of small talk in the workplace and improve your chances for professional success!
Be prepared: Trying to come up with small talk on the spot with strangers can be difficult and even anxiety inducing for some. In order to make things easier and avoid awkward silence, be prepared with a few topics you’re comfortable chatting about that would be appropriate to the situation. For example, if at a conference, discussing experiences in the city the conference is held in would be a natural choice. It’s also a good idea to have several questions prepared that you can pull out at any time that will help generate conversation so that you don’t do all the talking.
Listen: Once you have a conversation going, genuinely listen to your partner. Networking events can make it tempting to scan the room to see who is in attendance that you want to talk to. But if you’re only half involved in the conversation, you are likely to alienate your partner and leave the impression that you are rude and self-involved. Maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. Be an active listener by nodding and interjecting occasional short responses such as “really?” or “uh-huh”.
Don’t Linger: Staying and dragging a conversation out after it has naturally ended can become awkward, but many people are unsure how to end a conversation tactfully. Once a conversation has run its course and information has been exchanged, politely excuse yourself. The exit can be made more graceful by giving a brief reason for moving on, such as saying you need to say ‘hello’ to a colleague or get a drink.
What do you find challenging about small talk and networking? What are some tips that have worked for you? Share your story below in the comments section!
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