The Art of Small Talk

Engaging professionally and initiating small talk is an important career capability. As a business student, you will have the opportunity to engage in small talk regularly and in a variety of settings, including formal career networking events, business meetings, conferences, job interviews—even standing in line to grab coffee!  Striking up a conversation shows confidence and approachability, while leaving the individual with a positive impression.

Here are some tips:

    • Be poised and positive. When you go into a conversation with a positive attitude the other person will be more inclined to continue talking with you. Developing a strong career narrative ahead of time will help you start off on the right foot.
    • Talk with a variety of people. Remember that networking is a great way to meet new people and get your foot in the door at companies for which you may be applying. The more people you know at a company, the better your chances are of obtaining a position. 
    • Avoid controversial topics.  Avoid topics that are always in the news or have two strongly opposing views. Some examples of controversial topics include: politics, religion, immigration, gun control, death penalty, etc.  
    • Ask questions. People love to talk about their experiences and are flattered when you take interest.  Especially impressive are questions that demonstrate you are knowledgeable and have already done some research on the topic. Open-ended questions are best to make the conversation stronger. 
    • Practice. Schedule an appointment with your Career Coach to role-play small talk.

Additional Resources:

10 Small Talk Tips That’ll Make You Forget You Ever Had to Rely on “So, How About That Weather?”

30 Brilliant Networking Conversation Starters

Professional Networking for International Students: Small Talk Your Way into Career Success

7 Conversation Starters Better Than “What Do You Do?”—and 7 That Are Even Worse.

Read More Here

By W. P. Carey Career Management
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