"Help, don't make me talk to people I don't know!"
This is what I am thinking if I have to mingle at a meeting, seminar, or party. I am in awe of people who can ask good questions and engage in conversation with complete strangers. I googled "small talk" and the most current articles I found were from 2007. Either I am a bad googler or people are not using this phrase. Hmmm.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Pay attention to what is being said. Be a good listener and ask good followup questions. If they say "I really enjoy coming here" ask them why.
Stay current on current events. This will arm you with topics to ask about and be able to speak about as well. "What do you think about the …"
Share a short story from your day. Remember to ask them a question, like, "has this ever happened to you?"
The idea is to get them talking about themselves. We love being asked good questions so we can talk about what we know.
Here's the thing to remember. You need to practice small talk if it doesn't come naturally. So practice at the grocery store, school event, or where ever you go. Ask the produce person a question. Ask a fellow shopper why they like that product. If feels awkward, but smile, and that can melt away the uncomfortable feeling.
If you are one of those who can talk to anyone, what are your secrets?
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.