Engage Your Clients in the New Year - Dreading Small Talk
If you are one of those people that is having a hard time participating in small talk, you are not alone. You may even feel a sense of heavy dread when you are invited to a social function where you can’t easily use a friend as a crutch. Surprisingly, many people feel this way, though you may not know about it because it is rarely talked about.Though sometimes it is a taboo subject in the sales world,there are some common tricks to increase your small talk skills and put you more at ease.After all, engaging a client in small talk is usually the first step in building rapport and earning their trust, so it is definitely an important skill to hone. Aside from that, just think of how much more comfortable you will feel if you can apply some of the tips below to your everyday life. Soon, you’ll feel like a conversational pro, ready to take on any social situation with ease.
Focusing on the Obvious
Everyone you meet has a backstory, right? The thing that you may not realize is that most people like talking about themselves, especially if they feel that they are being heard and understood. This makes the easiest questions to ask, the most obvious. A great way to start off a simple conversation is to ask a person if they are local to the area, and if not you are free to ask them where they came from, or where they grew up. This helps slip you into a very causal conversation. From here you can build on other basic facts, such as asking if they have children, or siblings, or how many pets they have. As long as you are taking time to really focus on the answers and are displaying signs that show you are actively listening, you are on your way to great conversation!
Taking Your Conversation Further
Now that you asked a few questions about family, places lived, and how many dogs they have, you are ready to switch gears a little. Asking questions about a person’s occupation can really tell you a lot about a person. Try asking about what type of job they have and how long they have been in that field. From here you can even go a little further and inquire about what they like about their career, and what attracted them to that career. This really opens up the conversation and you can begin to think of other things to ask. But of course, still keep up with the excellent listening skills and try not to derail the person you are speaking to by interrupting or appearing as not paying attention.
Now For the Fun Stuff
At this point, you have asked pretty light questions and have gotten some great insight about the client that you are speaking to, but there are still some things to talk about. Bring up questions about hobbies and interests. Try to see what they are passionate about outside of their work and home responsibilities. If they aren’t really into anything, or don’t give you a solid answer, try asking about things that they would like to try doing, or things they’d like to do on their bucket list. Don’t be shy! You can even ask about their dreams, aspirations, or long/short term goals. Again, remember to be casual in the asking the questions, but remain attentive and responsive to the answers you receive.
Practice Makes Perfect
For some, this all may sound like something that they have already been doing for years and years. For others, this is a pretty good outline of how to strike up a conversation with just about anyone, in any place, at any time. Having really great social skills, like mastering small talk, can really help you to feel more confident. Even if you don’t actually feel confident, you will appear that way to others, and during small talk it is important to come off as a confident and secure individual. If mastering small talk feels like a big stretch for you, remember that practice makes perfect. Try some of these techniques with your associates or acquaintances and next time you are at a social gathering you will find that you feel comfortable taking to anyone.