Make no mistake, savvy networkers know the importance of small talk to start a conversation. They know that small talk eventually leads to big talk which conveys in introductions, referrals, leads and more. A gradual process it may be, but do not underestimate the power it holds. How can you take advantage of small talk? How can you use it as an icebreaker to start really good conversation? How can you continue the dialogue to further networking opportunities.
Listed below are tips for getting the chatter going in the right direction.
Think about what you want like to talk about with your counterpart to start the conversation. You can discuss the weather, sports, entertainment, news, finance etc. These are all good and relevant topics. You can also talk about the latest book you read or downloaded. You can share the last movie you watched or networking event you attended. Do not limit your conversation to the present moment. Discussion can occur about things which happened in the past or that can happen in the future.
While you are talking it is really important to have good body language. Use your non verbal cues to facilitate a smooth exchange. This means showing eye contact while speaking and taking pauses in your speech to gather feedback. You want to seem engaged so monitor your tone and voice levels. You also want to lean in or have a good proximity between your listening partner. Last but not least, it is important to have a relaxed posture with hand out of your pocket and not folded.
The Graceful Exit
All good things do come to an end. Eventually, you will have to terminate the conversation and move onto the next person. The way in which you transition is very important and can gauge the success of the dialogue. Make sure to end on a good note and exchange business cards. Offer to follow up later on in the evening if time permits. Also, ask about additional ways of staying in contact after the event is over.
Hopefully these tips can give you more insight on how to start, carry and finish a good networking conversation. Using your communication skills, body language and other abilities are great ways of maneuvering through the process.