How to Master Small Talk
[1309 Word Small Talk GUIDE]
Your network determines your net worth.
The better your skill of meeting and connecting with new people, the higher the likelihood of success in your life.
Sure, practice makes perfect, the more you’ll network, the better you’ll get at it.
But what if you could take that practice time and cut it in half?
You can do this by using a shortcut like mastering the art of small talk.
What is Small Talk
Think of small talk as the first few minutes of the conversation. We all know that we have only a single chance to make a good first impression, mastering small talk can help you achieve that.
Think of small talk like a bridge between you and the other person.
When you first start a conversation with someone you don’t know, you two are like 2 mountains with a distance between each other.
Small talk allows you to build a bridge between these 2 mountains and form a connection, this connection can later be used for anything and everything.
Either it can be used for personal enjoyment (friendships) or success in business.
It’s also important to note that you should not talk to people with the sole purpose of getting their approval, validation or acceptance. That shows weakness and people don’t like it.
The qualities and mindset of a small talk master
Small talk is supposed to be fun, don’t try to be too serious, especially if it’s a social setting. Make a joke, make others laugh and have a good time.
We naturally love to laugh and appreciate people who are energetic, optimistic and curious. The more you can show these qualities to others, the better the impression that you’ll make.
Having the right mindset when conversing with others is crucial. You need to overcome any negative beliefs you may have about yourself and embrace positivity.
You can use affirmations like:
- I love talking to other people,
- I interest others and others interest me,
- Everybody likes me until proven otherwise.
How to Talk to People You Don’t Know
Eliminating social anxiety
One of the best rules for eliminating anxiety is to have an incredible day prior to the social interaction. Go work out, meditate, complete all the work, etc.
Do something that makes you happy and improves your life at the same time, this will get you in the right mindset.
Another excellent way to kill anxiety is to use the 5-second rule.
The moment you see someone you’d like to talk to, start counting down from 5 to 1.
At 1 you take action and approach the person.
Striking up conversations with others may be difficult in the beginning, but remember. The more you practice, the easier it gets.
Don’t overthink the approach
When you’re looking for someone to approach, pay attention to 2 things.
- What does their body language say? Are they open or closed for a conversation?
- Make sure they’re not busy talking to someone else, or at least not having a really intense conversation.
When you go up to them, don’t worry too much about what you say.
Make eye contact smile and say ‘’Hey, how are you?’’
Best conversation openers
Remember these 4 words: context, experiences, acquaintances, common interests.
I find these 4 topics work best for me, but of course, you’ll have to experiment. Most of the time it works best to just let the conversation flow naturally.
Context – Talk about the current situation you’re in, the environment, the people, anything and everything going on.
Experiences – Ask them about their recent trips and experiences. If you can find a commonality (you both went to the Cayman’s for vacation), you’ll be talking for hours.
Acquintances – Who brought them to the party, who do they know, who do they work for. Try to find a mutual acquaintance that you both already have and the conversation will flow much better.
Common interests – What do they do in their free time, what hobbies do they enjoy, what are they passionate about? When passion meets passion, the conversation never ends.
Common interests are my favorite topics to talk about.
Taking Your Networking Skills to the Next Level
We are all familiar with the awkward part of the conversation when we run out of things to say. Those 5 seconds of silence are brutally painful.
A good piece of advice to avoid that silence is to focus all your attention on the other person. Pay attention to them, their interests and ask them to elaborate.
By asking them to elaborate on their interests, you’re giving them permission to talk to you about what they love. And we all love to talk about what we enjoy.
Ask them why they enjoy that ‘’activity’’ so much and how it fulfills them. If you can get them to talk about how they feel when they partake in their favorite activity, you’ve hit a networking jackpot.
However, an even better way to keep the conversation from dying out is to talk about something you’re both passionate about. As I mentioned, commonalities are golden.
When you’re talking to someone, ask them about their interests and then ‘’steer the ship’’ towards a topic you’re interested in too.
With a bit of luck, you’ll find a commonality that will keep you talking for hours.
The rules of body language
The worst thing you can do regarding your body language is to break eye contact when someone starts talking.
This shows massive disinterest and it makes the other person feel like you don’t care about what they have to say.
To avoid this, make sure you pay attention and maintain solid eye contact, while they’re talking.
Stand up straight, stay relaxed and speak with the proper tonality and volume.
How to Connect with People
You know what forms the strongest relationships and friendships? Emotions.
The next time you talk to someone and you want to form a relationship with them, focus on getting them to talk about their emotions.
How do they feel about something, how does their passion make them feel?
When you get them to share their feelings show that you understand them and demonstrate empathy.
After they share a story about how something made them feel, you do the same.
It can be a story about anything, no matter if it makes you look happy and strong or vulnerable. We’re trying to form a connection, not show off.
Remember, the conversation is not about you, it’s about them.
Instead of paying attention to how you feel, focus on how the other person feels and make sure they’re comfortable.
The Art of Listening
When a person listens to us, they’re giving us their time and that means a lot to us.
Time is our most valuable resource and when someone gives it to us, we truly appreciate it.
We also appreciate the fact that the other person cares enough about us and is willing to listen to whatever we have to say.
The next time that you’re talking to someone, do your best to listen with 100% interest.
Use verbal and nonverbal acknowledgment like nodding, you should also ask questions to keep people talking.
Remember, the more you can get them to talk, the more they’ll like and trust you.
In the end, paraphrase what they said to show them you truly listened.
Ending the Conversation
When you hit a point where you feel like it’s time to end the conversation, it’s important to take the time to thank the other person.
Summ up and tell them you enjoyed talking about…. (whatever you talked about) and that you would love to catch up sometime.
Thank them for their time and ask for their business card or another form of contact information.
Follow up with a call, text or email the next day, so that they save your contact info for any potential collaborations.