The holidays are the perfect time to shift your focus from studying to networking. Use your newly-found free time to reconnect with contacts and start building new relationships.
But making small talk can be difficult. What do we talk about? How do we start? Natalie Weakly, image consultant at Signature Style, shares her tips on how to get conversations started:
The social whirlwind that is the holiday season is upon us. Parties with friends, work events, time with family, and a dozen other reasons to step up your conversationalist game. I LOVE a good party. I love meeting new people, learning new things, hearing interesting tidbits about people’s lives, discussing what’s happening in the world, and learning random trivia I am certain I will need to know sometime. But we don’t get to any of the good stuff unless we start the conversation.
We’re all guilty of falling into the trap of just talking with the people we already know at a party. Here are some tips to help you get the conversation started with someone new. You never know who you’ll meet!
Have a few Go-To Questions in Your Back Pocket
Before you head out think of a few go-to questions you can use to spark conversation. Maybe what books have you read recently, movies you’ve seen, recent travels, favorite gift you’ve given/received (tis the season after all!). Having a few conversation topics in mind can help you be more relaxed if you get nervous and of course can lead to some interesting conversation!
Read the Headlines
Even if you don’t have time to read the whole article, check out a few headlines before you head out for the evening. The headlines give you just enough information to participate in discussion and give you great content for asking questions. “I just saw something about XYZ! What do you think about it? or Do you know more about it?”
A great cheat sheet for current events is The Skimm. It’s a great, easily digestiblerundown of current events with a bit of personality thrown in for good measure.
A great introduction can really spark conversation between the parties you are introducing. If you are introducing yourself add how you met the host or what department you work in for corporate functions or even a random tidbit about yourself. That extra piece of information is what both parties can use to get the ball rolling.
The Best Question
“Where are you from originally?” I learned about this question in a networking class several years ago and it is quite possibly the best networking advice I’ve ever received. You can learn so much about a person and have great follow-up questions with their answer to this question.
Use these at your next event to get the conversation started. Tell me how it goes! Next week, tips on how to keep the conversation going…