Why Small Talk is so Important for Networking


This is a guest post by Cheryl Posey.  She is a licensed and nationally certified speech pathologist that focuses on Accent Reduction and Communication Skills Training.  You can find and follow her on her Speaking Your Best


Each person we meet forms an impression of us, based on what we look like, our handshake, our body language, and how we present ourselves in casual, but very important “small talk.”  Excelling at small talk goes a long way in creating a lasting impression, and one we hope is favorable.


Why small take is so important

 Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many of us are nervous when it comes to speaking with someone new, especially if we are in an interview, or if we are speaking with someone important at work.  If we unsure of what to say or are insecure about speaking with new people, we often wonder if what we said presented the impression we wanted to present.  What did they think of me?  Did I say anything stupid that I will regret later?  Did I say anything offensive? We all want people to like us and think highly of us, but not everyone has the gift of gab.  We do not all know how to use small talk successfully.  This article will discuss how to use small talk to create a good impression.


1. Conversations are based on give and take.  

In every conversation, whether it is casual or important, the speaker and listener take turns talking and listening.  A successful conversation must have that give and take.  Knowing that the person we are talking to is listening to us, is interested in what we have to say, and is participating in the conversation is what leaves a favorable impression.  If one person does all the talking, then the conversation is one-sided, and that is never a good sign. 


2. What is small talk?

Small talk is casual conversation that consists of talking about safe, non-threatening topics that will not offend anyone. We often call this “chit-chat.”  Small talk consists of discussing casual, non-threatening topics such as the weather, sports, family, work, vacations, movies, books, cars, kids, holiday plans, etc.    

During light conversations, we try to avoid talking about any topic in which another person may have strong emotions, such as religion or politics. Bringing up a subject that elicits a negative feeling or that results in a heated discussion can be not only a conversation ender, but will most likely create a long-lasting negative impression.  


3. Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation.

If you ever feel that you would like to be able to talk to someone new, but just don’t know how to start a conversation, remember that small talk is the way to go.  We all have safe subjects in common, so finding one that both you and your listener enjoy discussing is what small talk is all about and is something that is a must in the American culture.


Question:  What do you do to start a conversation when networking?  

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