linda-richmanMaking small talk is part of my DNA. But, despite thousands of impromptu encounters during my 20-year public relations career, invitations to events where professionals meet and mingle do occasionally produce some uneasiness. Thankfully, my best PR skills kick in and help ease the way.

For those who are not masters of the art of coffee talk or gifted gabbers, even a few superficial sentences might not come so easily. If you fall into this category, and even if you’re already a corporate communications pro, it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk, offers a list online casino slot machines of top 10 icebreakers.

Fine suggests using them at those ubiquitous business and social occasions like fundraisers, networking meetings, cocktail parties, awards dinners and conferences – anywhere you need to start a respectable conversation with a business colleague, VIP or potential client you don’t know well or would like to meet. Here’s her list of conversation starters:

  1. What is your connection to this event?
  2. What keeps you busy outside of work?
  3. Tell me about the organizations you are involved with.
  4. How did you come up with this idea?
  5. What got you interested in … ?
  6. What do you attribute your success to?
  7. Describe some of the challenges of your profession.
  8. Describe your most important work experience.
  9. Bring me up to date.
  10. Tell me about your family.

Fine explains that all good icebreakers have something in common – they’re personal interactions, but never so personal that you cannot segue into a discussion of business and the opportunity to build a business relationship. The best business relationships are built on a personal connection and sharing information that has real meaning to people.

By encouraging new business connections to talk about themselves and their non-work life, you not only learn about their needs, wants and goals but you establish the basis for future conversations.  Most importantly, you’ve focused on them, rather than coming off as a self-promoter.

If your new business acquaintance walks away feeling that they have genuinely connected on several levels and areas of mutual interest – both personal and business – then you have mastered The Fine Art of Small Talk.