Top 5 Phrases to Initiate Meaningful Small Talk

According to the Personal Development and Networking Specialist, Allison Graham, “Initiating and maintaining conversations while networking is a necessary skill.” Initiating small talk is not an easy task for everyone. However, this skill can be easily learned. This article will address the top 5 phrases and conversation starters to initiate meaningful small talk.

Importance of Small Talk

Small talk is important, especially as it pertains to networking and advancing your professional career or your business. For example, if you are an individual who is more introverted, you may find yourself hiding in a corner at networking business events. That defeats the purpose of attending such occasions. Mastering the art of meaningful small talk will assist in creating genuine personal contact with the new people you meet. Ms. Graham advised that when you cultivate those “mini-bonds” with new contacts that often leads to “big talk,” which is good for your career or business. When you have conversed successfully, you will know it because you have created common ground in the “mini-bond” to find a reason to connect again in the future.

Three Possible Scenarios

When you are looking to converse in meaningful small talk to advance your professional career or your business, there are three possible scenarios of “conversation partners” you may find. Ms. Graham described these three groups as follows:

  • The fun and inviting group
  • Familiar faces from your network
  • Introverted individuals who would welcome your conversation attempts

Here are the top 5 phrases to initiate small talk:

1. What’s Your Connection to the Event

When you initiate small talk this way, you are creating a chance for the other person to share more details than simply a yes or no response—as if you had asked have you ever been to this event before. The importance of developing meaningful small talk begins by always seeking a way to genuinely connect with another person and find out what’s important to him or her.      

2. What Keeps You Busy When You’re Not Attending Events

When you begin to initiate small talk with this conversation starter, you create the opportunity for the other person to describe his or her passions, hobbies or work activities. Ms. Graham advised that this question is an “excellent way to add some enthusiasm into a conversation that has hit a lull.” For example, maybe the individual would rather be doing that activity now and you have just provided an opportunity to create that “mini-bond” by asking what keeps him or her busy.

3. Any Special Plans for the Summer (or Holiday)

According to Ms. Graham, starting small talk this way is a perfect opportunity that “can lead to conversations about family and reveal special interests.” If you also like traveling, this is a guaranteed way to keep the conversation going. When you can begin to discuss each other’s families and special interests that definitively cultivates that “mini-bond.”

4. Have You Ever Worked on Charity Projects?

Ms. Graham advised that, “This question makes it easy to launch into a deeper connection.” For example, when you can delve into this type of meaningful small talk, you discover someone’s values and what is important to them. If the individual hasn’t worked on any charity projects, Ms. Graham shared that it then provides illuminating information about this person that will be revealed. You are then given the chance to respond with various charity projects that you may be involved in and you can share your own values.

5. What Brought You to Your Current Line of Work?

This conversation starter is different than asking what line of work are you in because it provides you with a chance to delve deeper in the discussion. For the example, not only are you asking them about their current profession, but you are also seeking to discover their journey that brought them there. You’d be surprised at how interesting many peoples’ journeys have been. Ms. Graham advised that you are providing your conversation partner with a “chance to revisit their story to success.” As they talk, you are then able to pick up bread crumbs along the way that shares “who they are and what makes them tick.”

Initiating meaningful small talk is simple if you utilize the basic conversation starters discussed in this article. It simply takes a diligent effort to genuinely get to know the person you are speaking with and creating “mini-bonds” during those conversations which can lead to further professional contact.