Small Talk Is the Key to Networking

Networking is essential for professional success.

The ability to meet and connect with potential professional connections is one of the most important keys to growth in the business world. However, networking is more than simply meeting others in your field and introducing yourself and your services. The most successful networkers are those that make a genuine connection with others when they speak. Although many hesitate to engage in small talk for fear of seeming unprofessional, it can help you to establish a more personal connection and can lead to deeper, more successful professional relationships.

How do you get the conversational ball rolling? Take a look at our tips below!

Prepare in Advance: Coming up with small talk on the spot can be a challenge for many professionals. Before entering a networking event, be prepared with a few topics you’re comfortable chatting about that would be appropriate to the situation. For example, if at a conference, discussing experiences in the city the conference is held in would be a natural choice.

Use Group Dynamics: It’s often easier to join a group conversation than start talking with someone one-on-one. If you see a group you’d like to join, stand at the edge and try to make eye contact. In most cases, someone will back up slightly to allow you to join. Wait for an appropriate moment, and ask a question to enter the conversation. You can also use common acquaintances to start an interaction. If you see someone you know talking with someone you’ve never met, wait for an appropriate break in the conversation, then approach your friend and say “hi”. If your friend doesn’t introduce you to the other person, simply introduce yourself. A great follow up to generate conversation is to ask how the two know each other.

Smile: One of the most important factors in starting a conversation is to appear approachable and friendly. Make eye contact with people you’d like to speak to and smile. Keep your body language open: if you’d like to chat with someone, face them with your shoulders and avoid crossing your arms or legs.

Related: The 4 Cs of Getting More Referrals

What do you find challenging about starting a conversation? What are some of your personal best conversation starters?

If your communication skills are holding you back from professional success and you want to make your communication skills your most powerful professional tool, make sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. In this free resource, I break down the myriad factors that contribute to confident communication and guide you through how to use each aspect to your advantage.