Even if you’ve been born with a friendly personality, you may find yourself stuck when you’re in a situation that requires you to start a casual conversation. If you’re a naturally quiet person, these social situations might be uncomfortable experiences. When you’re nervous you lose your confidence and find it difficult to focus. Follow these suggestions and learn how to turn small talk into a new skill!
Don’t Just Say Hello!
Saying hello is a standard introduction during a social encounter. It works, but it leaves the conversation with no place to go. Instead, get the conversation rolling with adding open-ended questions.
- What brought you here? What are you interested in learning?
- Tell me about you?
- What is your latest project?
- Are you familiar with social media? How do you use social media to connect with customers?
- What’s the most interesting part of your work?
- Which leaders in your field inspire you?
Small Talks Needs a Big Brain and a Big Attentions Span
Once you’ve asked an open-ended question, pay attention to what the person is saying. At the same time, think of one or two follow up questions based on what the speaker says. Pay attention to their eyes and facial expressions. You can nod your head to show that you’re listening. It’s okay to smile, laugh, or become serious depending on the conversation. When there’s a natural pause in the conversation, make a comment and ask another leading question. If you get nervous, just take deep breaths and try again.
Common Interests Build Common Ground
As you continue your conversation, you’ll discover shared professional interests and concerns, which will help you build a conversational connection. If you’re attending a business conference, you have the topics related to your business in common. This can be a great confidence builder when it comes to improving your casual conversation skills.
Know When It’s Time to Go
After a certain amount of time, you will know that you’ve reached the end of your conversation. At that time, let your contact know that you have other people to speak to. Simply say, “I’ve really enjoyed speaking to you, and I appreciate all the information you shared and getting to know more about your business. Here’s my card. Can I have your business card too?”
If you say that you’re going to follow up or provide some kind of information—do it. That’s how you turn small talk into big success—one conversation at a time.