A Refresher on Making Small Talk

Posted on: September 13, 2022

Networking events are back and that means polishing up on small talk and conversation starters. It’s been a long while since we navigated a crowd of mainly strangers. So, if you find yourself standing alone, take a breath, move in, and get chatting.

Before You Go

Scan the news headlines, and peek at the movie reviews. Current events are always good topics.

Opening Lines

Introduce yourself – Stick to a first name to make it easier to remember, and hopefully the person you’re meeting will do the same. Give a little tidbit of info about you, and ask a question. E.g., Hi, I’m Dave. I’m accountant at an ad agency. What kind of work do you do?

Start with a compliment – E.g., Hi, I’m Sarah. I’ve been admiring your fabulous shoes.

Talk about the venue – E.g., Have you had any food yet? It sure looks good. I’m Veronica.

Follow Ups

Do you work in the neighbourhood? I’m looking for a nice restaurant to take clients.

How did you get into that business?

Tell me more about your job; what does a typical day look like for you?

Do you travel a lot?

Introduce Others

When you meet someone, really focus on their name. Repeat it, as in, “Nice to meet you Mariah.” And say it to yourself a few more times. Then, when someone else joins your group, introduce the others around you, and yourself to the new person. Add something about another, or what you’ve been talking about. E.g., “Sarah’s just back from Italy and we’ve been talking about how much we love Italian food.” Everyone will be impressed that you remembered their name, and the new person will feel welcomed.

Let Others Talk

Let others do most of the talking, but if you’re asked a question, give more than the shortest answer. If you’re asked about your job, give your title, what you actually do, and any specialties you focus on. Be sure to ask a question back, to keep the conversation going.

Networking is important and you want to make the most of the opportunity to expand your circle. Forget the sale pitch. What you do for a living will come up, guaranteed. Just enjoy yourself. A happy face says a lot about a person.