When proceeding through the interview process you may find yourself in a position where you will have to partake in 'small talk'. Whether it be conversing with other applicants, attending a social event for your prospective employer, or simply creating small talk before an interview actually begins. This is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced, below are some tips to help you become successful.
1) Be the first person to reach our your hand, say hello, and introduce yourself, even if it is someone you have met in the past. This will show your enthusiasm and refresh the memory of the person you are speaking to.
2) If appropriate, exchange business cards, and then use the person's name as it is printed. When receiving a business card always take the time to read it before storing it away.
3) Be prepared with generic current topics. Know what is going on in the news and be able to make non-opinionated conversation. It's best to stick to neutral topics such as sports, the weather or a recent movie you have seen.
4) Get the other person talking by asking leading questions. It can be as simple as: "What great weather we are having, have you been able to get out and enjoy it?" Listen carefully to their answer and you will have plenty of topics to extend the conversation.
5) Always maintain eye contact and give feedback in a meaningful way. Never glance around the room, talk too much or tell long detailed stories.
6) If you are placed in a situation where you are joining an existing conversation, listen to what is being said before making a remark. You don't want to ruin the conversation by making an inappropriate comment and making yourself look foolish.
7) Finally, have an exit strategy. "That's great to hear, but let's get down to business, I have limited time" or at an event "It's been nice chatting with you, but please excuse me I need to call my office." You want to be professional by keeping small talk brief and move onto more important matters when appropriate.
Small talk is an important means of communication in the business world. It allows us to learn something about others, sets a common ground and leads the way to getting business needs discussed. When handled properly each party will be more receptive to what the other has to present.
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