A Quick Guide to Networking: Small Talk

One of the tent poles of networking is small talk. Even when we’re on the job, we gather around the water cooler to talk about the latest shows and current events. As an entrepreneur or startup owner, sometimes you don’t have time to keep up with the latest celebrity gossip. Or, sometimes, small talk isn’t your thing. For example, most introverts don’t really understand the need for small talk.

Whether you have a hard time staying updated or you find small talk an unwelcome burden, you still need to use it as a networking tool.

When you show up at a networking function, how do you play a small talk?

First, it’s easy to catch up on the news. Hit up any site, like CNN or ABC News, and you’ll find news stories by categories. If you’re looking to be a little more versed in your industry, you can try a site that follows your industry in particular. If you’re looking for some smaller stories that will help you lead a conversation, Mashable.com is always on the top of technology with sections dedicated to small business, social media, and more. Guaranteed to keep you up to date on an ever-changing medium. Do some research so you have something to pull from.

Second, check your Twitter trends. This seems a little ridiculous, but the trending list on Twitter is literally a list of what people are talking about. You can take the opportunity to find out where the trend originated (like #starwarsspinoffs came after an announcement that Star Wars will be filming spinoffs). Twitter trends give you the chance to find more social topics as opposed to news topics.

Third, ask questions. Its the easiest way to get someone to talk. By asking questions, you allow someone to guide the conversation to a direction they feel comfortable with. At the same time, you are showing your own interest in particular subjects. It’s a simple trick that most people forget. Communication isn’t one way. Start a conversation, not a monologue.

Small talk is necessary, whether you consider it a necessary evil or otherwise. The important part is that it gets you talking. Find your passion, and you’ll be able to talk for hours.


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Posted on February 14, 2013, in Biz Tips, Entrepreneur, Small Business and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Although it may be called “small”, small talk is certainly a BIG part of effective networking and making yourself appear likeable in that short window of first impressions. I agree that asking questions to get a conversation started is a very friendly way to show interest in the other person. Hopefully they ask questions in return and a deeper and meaningful conversation will strike from there – as oppose to the common “How about that weather?”

  2. Don’t forget the Sports page of the newspaper. Its one of the best small talk sources you can find. Even if you don’t follow sports you can sound like an expert by reading the sports page before your meet up.

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