Small talk isn’t just something you do with your in-laws and your hair dresser. It’s one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to finding a job. Having the right skills is only half the equation. Next, you need to make connections with the people who are looking for those skills. That means networking, and—you guessed it—making small talk.
Open Like a Pro
When you’re networking, you need an easy way to start conversations. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking with the CEO of a major manufacturing plant or the administrative assistant to a local contractor, you never want to jump right into business. It’s off-putting, and unenjoyable for everyone involved. It also doesn’t allow time for making a personal connection.
Instead, start with something you can both talk about. Current events work well, but only if you avoid politics. Try talking about new businesses coming into town, upcoming events, or even sports (just be willing to back off this one if the person you’re talking to has never heard of the Final Four).
Favorite local restaurants is another good opener. People are always looking for new recommendations, and if you recommend their next favorite spot, they won’t forget it. Make sure to brush up on your local restaurants. Promoting a local business shows you’re connected to the community.
Keep Them Talking
Once the conversation has started, you need to find a way to keep it going. Current events and local eateries will only carry a conversation so far. Next, look for ways to engage their interest by talking about them. Again, you don’t want to jump straight into business talk. Instead, look for opportunities to ask about their interests outside of work. What hobbies do they have? What type of books do they read? Do they have a family? If so, run with this. Parents love to talk about their kids—and if you let them, they’ll love talking to you. If there are no kids in the picture, pets can work just as well.
Just remember, you’re talking about them now. It’s okay to share your own stories, but make sure the conversation stays focused on them. That will keep them engaged.
Ask What They Do
Once you have successfully built a rapport, it’s time to talk business. Don’t rush in by saying you’re looking for a job. Instead, ask what they do. Then ask for more details. How did they get into that field? What’s the best part of their job? Do they get to work with any interesting people? Let them guide the conversation as much as possible. At some point, they’ll ask about you too. And if they’re interested in your skills, they’ll let you know. Or, at the very least, they’ll ask for your business card.
The most important thing you can do when it comes to improving your small talk is to practice. Practice with anyone you can. Attend local networking events. Join a networking club. Make more frequent appointments with your hair dresser. The more comfortable you become at starting and maintaining conversations, the more successful you’ll be the next time you find yourself standing across from someone who might have a job for you.
For more networking advice, or to start looking for your next job, contact Madden Industrial Craftsmen today. We strive to be the leader in Pacific Northwest industrial staffing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our great team!