Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Making Small Talk Count

In the ultra-connected world we live in today, everyone is communicating with everyone and we are communicating with a purpose. You have heard it before and you will likely hear it a hundred times over: you have to network, network, network. It is the best, sure-fire way to get your foot in the door at a company and it is a great way to get associated with the people in your field because remember, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Of course, I don’t agree with that 100 percent, but networking is a vital part of the job search process.

So how exactly do you network and build relationships with virtual strangers? The answer, my friends, is small talk. By definition, small talk is light conversation on everyday things. We all engage in it and most of us hate it, but the fact of the matter is that it can be greatly beneficial at helping you build relationships. There are a couple things you should keep in mind while engaging in small talk though and, as always, a couple of things you should definitely avoid. Talking about the weather is the age old small talk go to, but I’d say it’s tired and boring. Everyone knows what the weather is like outside, they have eyes too. Instead, try and make your small talk interesting and meaningful. Take a look at some of these tips and start taking advantage of your small talk conversations. Once you’ve made some network connections and are ready to start applying for jobs, remember that Spark Hire is the best way to set yourself above the competition. With a Profile Video you can greatly enrich your resume and further show your network connections your advanced communication skills and personality.

Keep it Light
They call it small talk because you aren’t talking about heavy topics. The key here is to keep it light. Remember when you learned how certain topics are off limits at times? Ahem, politics, religion and sex? Yes, these are things you will want to avoid in your small talk interactions. The reason for this is you don’t want to offend someone upon your first meeting. You have no idea what this person is experiencing in their personal life, so by bringing up heavy topics you could be twisting the knife that’s already in their chest. That’s why you should keep things neutral and establish right away that your relationship is business minded. Plus, it’s difficult to offend someone when you are talking about general topics.

Avoid the Weather
Like I said, the weather is boring. No one wants to talk about it unless there is something very unusual going on. Plus, when someone brings up the weather it may seem as though they have nothing else to talk about and are just scrambling to find something to say. Don’t be this person. Instead, talk about current events and things that are going on around you. This is when Chris’s post on staying up on current events can be very helpful.

Ask Questions
People love to feel important. I’ll admit that I love the occasional, “oh, I feel important in this conversation” feeling and I know you do too. Plus, people will remember more how you made them feel than what you actually said. The best way to make someone feel important is to ask them questions. It shows that you are engaged in the conversation and are actually listening to what they are saying. On top of that, it shows that you are interested in what they think and said. That shows they have your attention and, in turn, makes them feel important.

Listen
This is obviously coupled with the above tip, but if you don’t listen, then how will you be able to follow a conversation? Yes, we know that what you have to say is important, but so is what the other person is saying. By sitting back and listening, you are giving the other person your full attention and are allowing yourself to actually learn something from this conversation. Furthermore, you can’t build upon a conversation without listening. A conversation goes two ways and if you are constantly dismissing what the other person says simply because you have failed to listen, then chances are you have lost this person’s interest and possibly their respect. A big ‘no no’ in networking.

Personality
Small talk is great because it helps you to gauge what the other person’s personality is like. You can learn a lot from someone from simply talking about general topics. For instance, you can quickly pick up on someone’s general attitude on life and work by discussing general topics. If someone seems to be pessimistic about life and everything around them, you should stop and think if this is someone you really want to attach yourself to. On the other hand, if they are on par with your optimistic, “can do” attitude then you may see the start of a great relationship and contact.

Things to Avoid:
-Don’t gossip. It’s childish, immature and very unprofessional. Many companies and company leaders frown upon this.
-The aforementioned topics such as politics, religion and sex. These can spark arguments- something you don’t want upon first meeting.
-Personal issues

IMAGE: Courtesy of Savage Chickens

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter