Many of us despise making small talk. It is the equalent of a drill in the dentist’s office. As a result, these same, introverted people like myself hate going to networking events where we are forced into small talk. But wait…what if we approach the problem differently. What if you don’t have to do all the chatting? What if you don’t have to have clever one-liners or a hip new joke? What if making small talk was just about asking questions…
Last night I was watching TV with my kids and got caught up in Good Luck Charlie, a silly PG sitcom. In last night’s episode, 10 year old Gabe asks his mom how to talk to a girl he likes. He was so concerned about what he was going to say, he couldn’t put his words together when talking with the girl. In the mom’s infinite wisdom, she eventually suggested he try to learn about her, “ask her questions and see if you have anything in common.” After this advice, he asked the girl good open ended questions. “Tell me about your family” and followed that up with “tell me more!”. This is the short summary, and to be honest, I didn’t make it to the end of the show, so I am not sure how this ended up.
Finding something in common with someone can instantly start a great conversation. It isn’t about spewing information about yourself or being witty. Let the other person do the speaking. This is about being a good listener.
Obviously, this has networking and interviewing application. Not just in job search, but in managing your future. Building relationships along the way is the best employment insurance you can have!
By the way, dating and job searching have so many similarities. Awhile ago, I wrote a post called: 15 Ways Finding a Job is Like Dating which highlights the similarities!