(Image via smalltalk.whatcheer.com)
Let’s face it. Most of us are not fans of small talk. It can be mundane and awkward. But small talk, for better or worse, is a big part of social interaction. Even we struggle with always knowing what to say and we’re lucky enough to meet new people on a regular basis to test our skills.
As we gear up for FEAST Portland this is a good time to brush up on our small talk game and pass along some tricks of the trade to help you leave a memorable impression (in a good way).
Small talk took kit:
- Good small talk should be happy, light and even a bit quirky. It’s a good idea to brush up on current events, pop culture, local restaurants, and attractions, before an event or party. Be sure to avoid extreme statements about any one topic. Well, unless it’s about food or drink. Then it’s okay.
- Focus on things you may have in common. The easiest bet here is to inquire about the person’s connection to the event or any mutual friends or business interests.
- Do your best to remember names. Repeat it back a few times in your head, make a fun rhyme, get their business card, whatever it takes. In the event you forget upon a first meeting, it’s okay to politely ask them to repeat their name. There’s a good change they forgot yours as well.
- Loosen up with an adult beverage. It’s okay to be nervous meeting new people. Most of us are. If a glass of bubbly helps, go for it. Keep alcohol to a two drink maximum, especially for work events.
- We all love to talk about ourselves (even if we don’t admit it) so the next time you’re sitting next to an unfamiliar face, ask them questions. People tend to talk about their passions, so listen and then inquire further.
- Know when to cut ‘em loose. The dreaded lull in conversation happens to the best of us and you’re not going to click with every person you meet. Use your gut to determine if the person you’re chatting with is dying to get away. A simple, “I know you must have a busy day ahead of you. It was a pleasuring meeting you. Enjoy the rest of the event/party/night” usually works.
- Remember the “You Never Know” rule. Push yourself to meet as many new people as possible because “you never know” when you’re about to meet a potential new client or newfound friend.
- When in doubt, for things to talk about, binge watch Breaking Bad. Everyone likes to talk about Breaking Bad.