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Skip Small Talk in Big Ways

With technology constantly buzzing around us and a new email rolling in every five seconds, there’s no time left in the day for face-to-face communication. Many people may believe that small talk is unavoidable, but that’s not the case. Making a connection with new clients, old clients and current coworkers is paramount for success. Next time you are introduced to a new face, try one (or all) of these simple tips to turn awkward small talk into meaningful conversations.

Pretend You’re an Old Friend

When you come up short on what to say after the obvious commonalities have been thoroughly covered, try treating your new acquaintance like an old friend. Your body will relax, your questions will roll out easier and your awkwardness flies out the door. Pretending you already know someone and have an established connection allows you to focus in on quality conversation content and not quantity to fill the space.

Business handshake. Businessman giving an handshake to close the deal. Lots of copyspace

Talk About Them

Everyone’s favorite subject (and the one they are most well versed in) is themselves. When you get the ball rolling with someone and they start talking about themselves, ask those harder, probing questions about their latest acquisition or board meeting. Note: Don’t dive right in with this. More in-depth questions flow more freely when they’ve already divulged their former high school mascot.

Assume the Best

Next time you feel the conversation becoming stagnant, assume that your new acquaintance is a genuinely nice person. You should assume they want to make a personal connection, become a client and get through the awkward introduction phase as much as you do. Don’t hesitate to ask the important question on your mind that might just seal the deal; they may be thinking the same thing.

Business people laughing during business appointment in the office

Be Interested in the Conversation

It may seem like common sense, but slowing down long enough to focus on what your potential client is saying will help you relax. Stop worrying about your buzzing phone or the next person you’re angling to speak with. Plant your feet and look your potential client in the eye. Try giving a genuine compliment—it’s a shortcut to finding common ground.

Stay Calm

When you come up short for words after already discussing the weather and your recent weekend outing on the links, remember that there are two people participating in this conversation. Your conversation partner is just as nervous about keeping the conversation flowing as you are. It becomes easier to see your new acquaintance as an old friend with this in mind.

Try employing one of these techniques during your next networking event and watch the small talk turn into real talk before your eyes.

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