The Art of Small Talk: 10 Ways to Ooze Interesting While Networking

small talkSmall talk happens at a conference, a coffee shop, a graduation party, or a wedding.  Heck, it could also happen during a job interview.

But does the thought of having to talk with someone new make you want to run fast in the other direction?

You aren’t alone. Many people, especially introverts, feel this way. But there are things you can do so you don’t dread small talk. The truth is, you desperately want someone to like you but you are afraid they won’t be and you tend to avoid the situation altogether.

Overcome your fear and anxiety and ooze interesting instead. Here are 10 ways to come across as interesting (and employable):

1.  Smile

Simply smiling makes you appear friendly and approachable. Think about it. Would you rather talk to someone who is smiling or someone who looks like they are not having a good time?

2.  Ask Questions

Instead of worrying about what you’ll say, have a list of easy conversation starters. Once you find something you share in common, the conversation will flow! And don’t think you have to focus on work. Often, it is finding things outside of work that warms up a conversation!

3.  Follow Current Events

Come armed with knowledge about local, regional and global current events. This not only boosts your confidence, it also makes it easier to get a conversation going.

4.  Wear a Conversation Piece

Maybe you have a unique tie, scarf, or piece of jewelry. Wear it! This also helps the confidence thing. And as people ask you about your unique accessory, it also gives you something easy to talk about.

5.  Make an Introduction

Maybe you have an opportunity to introduce innocent bystanders to one another! If you are standing in a small group, make sure everyone knows each other.

6.  Listen

The best way to show your interest in someone? Ask thoughtful follow-up questions. But you can only do this if you are truly listening. Nod your head knowingly. Just as important, resist temptation to interrupt the person you are speaking with. Listening is difficult for many, but introvert tend to do this very well.

7.  Make Eye Contact

Your body language sets the tone. Look people in the eyes when you are speaking and listening. And speak loudly enough so people can hear what you are saying.

8.  Be Genuine

Don’t be afraid to interject personal information. Often, this warms the conversation AND can also lead to the discovery of mutual interests.  If your child’s team just won a match or you are planning a vacation or trip somewhere, talk about it. After all, who knows what doors may your conversation starters may open?

9.  Tell a Joke

“A funny thing happened on the way to this event…” or  “did you hear the one about…” Not everyone is great at telling jokes, but sometimes, telling a story helps people relate to you better. Just make sure your joke or story is appropriate for the person you are speaking with.

10. Discover their Passion

Nothing gets a person more excited than talking about something they are interested in. Their eyes twinkle and they can’t stop talking! They will also be more likely to remember their conversation with you.

Important: Small Talk Doesn’t Happen on Your Phone!

It’s tempting to stand in the corner looking at your smart phone. It feels safe. But that’s not why you are at the event. You are there to meet people, right? So you’re going to need to step out of your comfort zone.

Try on this new persona full of small talk. It is sort of like being in a play. Get into character… and show the people you meet just how employable you are!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Career Sherpa.


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Hannah Morgan hiring prosAbout the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa. And follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!



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