CREW Network planned a great session for us this fall. We had an extremely entertaining session on the art of small talk. For anyone that has trouble finding just the right words to break the ice during a networking event, Debra Fine had a LOT of great tips! One of things I, personally, loved about Debra? She’s an engineer!!!! She’s living proof that there’s hope for me yet!
Besides being my personal inspiration for the day, Debra shared these key points: Never lead in with something overly personal. Let your conversation partner share with you (don’t yank it out of them). Know when it’s time to leave a conversation gracefully. Looking for the Audrey Hepburn exit? Let the other person know that you’re listening, but give it a definitive timeline. For instance, you may enjoy listening to the first 10 minute one-sided exposition on favorite karaoke songs and styles; however, you know that you need to move on (hopefully) chat with the decision maker for a 100-acre development project. Instead of ditching karaoke abruptly, you can gracefully give him/her the 1-2 sentence warning: “I have enjoyed learning more about your passion for old school hip hop. I want to hear briefly about your favorite Beastie Boys tune before I have to meet with so-and-so in one minute.” Author’s note: This is not meant to be a verbatim account of Debra’s example. I took some artistic license.
In the end, Debra’s presentation was more about reigniting the lost art of conversation in business society. Put down the phones and interact!