Mastering the Art of Small Talk for Introverts
I am one of those Extroverted Introverts. The type of person who is very chatty and lively when I know you but is stepping right out of my comfort zone when it comes to networking and chatting with people that I do not know. I have taught myself over the years to manage my nerves because I know, that when it comes to building my business, networking which involves small talk, is the number one source of my work.
It is more often than not that I find I get work because someone knows me or knows of me. Never underestimate the value of networking, which I discussed last week as well as small talk to building a successful business.
So, if you are also an introvert my guess is that when it comes to a crowd you slowly, or maybe suddenly start to feel ill inside. The idea of opening your mouth fills you with dread as you have no idea what is going to come out. You cannot imagine what you will have to say to keep someone interested in YOU. Then if they do they are going to discover you are a bit of a phony, who are you fooling, you might as well go home.
I know all of these conversations as they used to consistently fill my head in groups where I didn’t know anyone very well.
So read on and you’ll discover some really simple tips to revealing what to say, when you are feeling nervous.
Joining the party
The safest and easiest way to join a conversation at a social function is by approaching a group of three to six people. Any smaller and they may be in an intimate conversation and any larger and you can be left on the edge.
Talk about the arts
Very safe subjects to talk about are films, theatre and any other arts that may be on in your area. You can talk about local shows or festivals that may be happening. This will often lead-on to the performances, the stars, maybe some awards or coming attractions.
The good old favourites—football and golf
All sports and hobbies are a very safe topic and are enjoyed by most people. The state and town you are in will determine what football league you will be talking about. But then again, you may also wish to talk about whatever your hobbies are. This can lead on to some experiences the other person may have had.
We all know that the subjects to avoid are sex, religion and politics. Save these topics for your friends at a heated dinner party with lots of red wine; don’t open conversations about these topics with someone you barely know.
Have a good opening line
Know that at many functions you will be asked about your job. Rather than just saying ‘I’m in sales’, ‘I’m in marketing’ or ‘I’m an accountant’, add a little more information. Think of it as a fifteen-second elevator speech. You have only got a few seconds to say what you do to get someone’s interest so that they will ask more questions. It is not a time to pitch, it is an opportunity to get someone interested.
Here are two scripts to follow:
Typically, who I work with are …………………………….. (target market)
Who are having the challenge of ……………………………………………… (provide a relevant problem you solve that they will most likely also have).
I help them get ………………………………………………………. (results/change they get)
You know how, ……………………. ( outline a pain or action your ideal client/ or the listener has/does )
Well my business…………………………….. (outline how you fix that problem)
In fact. ………………………………. (you can place an offer or solution here)
This can also be referred to your USP or your elevator pitch -Please take care to modify it to your environment.
I once heard a couple at a social gathering use their Elevators pitches to new people they met who were from totally different backgrounds and the responses they got were clearly that they made the other person feel inferior in their presence. Not an impressive result at all for either side. Always ensure your communication makes everyone feel empowered not diminished. Basically no one cares who you are…they care what you can do for them.
Basically no one cares who you are…they care what you can do for them. So drop the “I am’s” and add the “I can do for you’s…”
Listen for your clues
When you are in a conversation, look someone in the eye and truly listen to what they are saying. It can give you clues to lead the conversation in many more directions and save embarrassing silences with the two of you looking around for something else to discuss.
Books bridge the gap
When I was travelling, I always knew what the latest books were by what other passengers were reading. Nowadays I rely on the top ten lists or what takes my interest. I have found that books can be the source of a very lengthy and interesting topic of conversation between strangers.
What else is there?
So you have talked about sport, you’ve talked about the theatre and you have talked about books. Other topics you might want to talk about are music, shows you have seen, travel or places you have been. You may even want to talk about architecture and cities and of course, business. Generally, if you are at a networking event, the idea is to get to know a little about what the other person does and what type of business they are in. That way you can see if there is any synchronicity with your own business and how you may be able to help each other.
When in doubt dogs and kids are also very safe and can start someone talking for hours. Be wary though, you may not be able to get away from this conversation.
Paraphrasing what the person has said and asking them more about the topic is a great conversation continuer. If that fails, start any sentence with How, What, When Where or Why and you can open up multitudes of topics.
I have been known to go to a party and use the whole conversation time by asking people about their stories and seeing how long I can go without saying much about myself. It is surprising how long you can last as many people do like to talk about themselves.
If you still feel stuck with conversing with people you don’t know, give me a call and we can work through some of your stumbling blocks and I can find you some really simple solutions.
Get to know yourself better through my many quizzes.