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The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills and Leave a Positive Impression! By Debra Fine

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Want practical tips and techniques for starting and maintaining conversations with others, building networking skills, and leaving a positive impression?

Making eye contact, smiling and finding approachable people are the essential steps to successful small talk.  Take the small risk and be the first to say hello, offer your name and try to remember theirs, deliberately introduce yourself to new people. 

Open-ended questions and finding common ground are the key steps to connect with others.  Remember to “connect” or “relate” means to find commonality with another human being.

Examples of conversation killers to avoid are:

  • Asking questions that are too personal or invasive, such as “How much money do you make?” or “Have you ever been arrested?”
  • Giving unsolicited advice or criticism, such as “You know what you should do…” or “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
  • Interrupting the other person while they are speaking or finishing their sentences for them.
  • Monopolizing the conversation and not allowing the other person to speak, such as by talking about yourself or your own experiences for an extended period of time without giving the other person a chance to respond or contribute.
  • Using negative or inappropriate language, such as complaining excessively, using offensive language or making inappropriate jokes.
  • Asking closed-ended questions that don’t allow for much conversation, such as “Do you like your job?” or “Have you traveled much?

Consider joining clubs or groups to build your network.  Use your contacts to help others, and be friendly to others, as opposed to waiting for them to be friendly first.  Finally when someone asks what is new or how are you, talk about something exciting!

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