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Your Toolkit for small talk – #5 Top Up With Topics

This is the fifth in a series of 5 blog posts on “Your Toolkit For Small Talk”. These posts help you to get the most out of a seated small talk situation. You may find the first post here, the second post here the third post here and the fourth post here. Today, it is about having your topics ready.

What topic should I choose?

Now, that everyone is ready to engage in conversations, comes the question: “What should I talk about?”
After the program has started, it would get easier, since there is a common topic: the program. You all have opinions or suggestions about it.
But how do you start before the beginning of an event?

What not to talk about?

If you’re planning to play it safe, not offending anyone around you, then you might want to know the rule of thumb: Best not to touch the topics of religion, politics or sex. Unless, of course, if the whole event is about either religion, politics or sex. 🙂

These topics may be thin ice. People often have a passionate opinion about these, hence, you might open a can of worms with an innocent question.

However, there are no bulletproof topics.
I once asked a young couple that was freshly married, “Any plans regarding kids?” The answer was “I don’t understand why people feel entitled to ask this question. Like they have anything to f*cking do with it.”

I ran into that one.

Actually, any topic can be treated as thin ice, but there are some you have the best chances with.

What are the best topics to go with?

Do you remember that I mentioned the 5 senses in the first post? They can be a way to go.
Look around, while sitting. Is there anything you might like? You may start with a statement about that and then ask their opinions about it.

“That is one lovely curtain over there. I love that it starts from the ceiling and reaches all the way down to the floor. What do you think about that?”

Still, in honor of playing it safe, you can go with the topics, included in the FORD method as follows:
Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams.

“I love that people are dressed so casually. It reminds me of the time I spend on the golf course. Do you happen to play golf?”

These topics can not only be easy to talk about but can also help you to get to know the other person better, hence, building a stronger relationship. It can help you to find your mutual interests:
He likes sailing? You like sailing! There you go: you may look forward to an exciting couple of minutes (sometimes hours) to talk about something you both love and are passionate about.

Formula for the start

Notice, that in the example I didn’t jump right into the question and neither should you. Here is my formula:

  1. Noticing something from my surroundings
  2. Sharing something about my own interests
  3. Asking a question.

What’s next?

I once got the question: “okay, We started off, but then the topic we picked seemed just empty. Though we had a good start, after a few words, the momentum was gone. Didn’t know how to carry on.”

With answering this question I will conclude my 5 element blog post series here.

My answer to “what to do, when you run out of words on a topic?” is this: Simply change the subject. Ask a question about a new topic. It can be a topic from the “FORD” topics, or any topic that there, and then genuinely interests you. With this, I hope it became obvious to you that deepening your first contact relationship from now on is all about repeating what you’ve learned in this last post.

Is that really all?

You might feel that there would be more to building a successful business relationship than what you may find in these five blog posts.

On one hand, you are right: the process goes on towards talking about your business, maintaining the relationship and giving an offer.

On the other hand, the very basis of the whole business small talk is covered in these five posts.

If you don’t believe me, then here’s a challenge.

Small Talk Challenge

Put “Networking” on your to-do list once every week. Every Thursday, for instance, go out to an event and practice your Toolkit For Small Talk covered in the five blog posts. (Post1, Post2, Post3, Post4 and this post)

You don’t have to like it. Just do it. Check how it goes and see for yourself the change that it will mean in your life.

I’d be thrilled to hear about your experience, so feel free to share, once you jump into networking head first.

If you feel there is more to learn (and yes, you are right ;)) then subscribe to the mailing list below so I can update you once there are some news regarding our latest course.

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