The news from Facebook and the University of Milan research is that the famous “six degrees of separation” is now down to 4.47 or even less.
That is fine on the internet where connections are obvious but what does that mean for real life?
We believe it is only by talking to people that you can find out about those connections. This is a good reason for more small talk – call it “connecting talk”.
Here are our guidelines for great small talk that leads to bigger things.
1. Before you meet new people come up with 2 or 3 three things to talk about as well as 3 general questions that will get others talking. Try to remember things about the people you have met before.
2. Be the first to say “Hello.” If you’re not sure the other person will remember you, offer your name first to make things smoother. For example, “Dan? David Green — good to see you again.”
3. Make an extra effort to remember names.
4. Watch your body language. People who look ill at ease make others uncomfortable. Act confident and comfortable, even when you’re not.
5. Get the other person talking by leading with a statement regarding the event or location and then asking a related open-ended question. For example, “Attendance looks higher than last year, how long have you been coming to these conferences?”
6. Stay focused on your conversational partner by actively listening and giving feedback. Maintain eye contact. Never glance around the room while they are talking to you. To be seen looking for someone “better “ to talk to is very insulting.
7. Stay away from negative or controversial topics .
8. Have something interesting to contribute. Keep up an interest in (non-controversial) news and start conversations based on that. You could start with
“What do you think of …?” “Have you heard …?” ”What is your view on …?”
9. Before joining another group or entering into a conversation that’s already in progress, observe and listen. You don’t want to interrupt the dynamic or butt in.
10. Do not tell long-winded stories or give a lot of detail in casual conversation.
11. Have a few exit lines ready so that you can both gracefully move on.
For example, “I need to check in with a colleague over there,” or “ Well, enjoy the evening” or you can offer to refresh their drink.