Small talk is not a waste of time, but a way of connecting with other people. Often, it’s those connections with others that expose you to new career paths and opportunities, which your technical skills allow you to take advantage of. Today’s article is a guest post (the first!), by Don Gabor, Author of “How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends.”
If you are like many scientists, you probably love to talk about your own work when your at professional meetings. However, do you consider “small talk” — that is, informal conversation about light topics such as where people grew up, careers, hobbies, travels, and other personal interests –
boring and a waste of time? If so, you are making a big career mistake, especially if you seek new job opportunities.
Making small talk is an important career-boosting skill for the following reasons:
1. Making small talk shows that you are willing and capable of talking about more than just your work. This demonstrates flexibility, confidence and a desire to connect with others. In addition to professional competence, employers seek job candidates with conversation skills because they quickly
integrate into existing teams and become the best managers.
2. Making small talk is the answer to “What do you say after you say hello?” after meeting someone. It allows people to casually reveal and listen for mutual topics of interest, and know what to say next in the conversation. Once you pick up on the copious amounts of “free information” contained within most small talk, you’ll never be tongue-tied or embarrassed by silence.
3. Making small talk gives individuals an informal way to quickly get to know one another, find areas of commonality, and begin relationships, both professionally and personally. As a result, your career options and friendships will increase faster than simply sending HR departments your resume.
Any questions or comments about this post? What’s your view of small talk? If you could improve anything about your ability to make small talk and meet others who can help boost your career and social life, what would it be?
Author of “How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends.” For conversation tips, “50 Ways to Improve Your Conversations, please visit www.dongabor.com.