Making Small Talk at TEC

April 22, 2014

As TEC 2014 is soon upon us, we got to thinking about all of the fantastic networking events that will be taking place throughout the week. For some people these events are great fun, but for others making small talk doesn’t come as easy. Below are a few helpful tips for making small talk a little easier during TEC 2014.

  1. Comment on timely topics – Stay positive, and ask questions like “What brings you to this event?” or “Which course or speakers have you found the most interesting this week?”
  2. Ask an open ended question – One of the easiest open ended questions you can ask in any situation is “What have you been up to lately?” This question allows people to respond as they please, such as keeping the topic about business or turning the conversation over to a personal subject. This question also allows you to get more information about a person’s background, which comes in handy if you don’t quite remember who they are or what company they work for. 
  3. Ask questions that allow you to get to know each other – Asking questions that are different than the run of the mill networking questions allows you to get to know somebody past the standard questions. Next time you’re in a networking situation, ask somebody something they’ve never been asked. Revealing hidden passions or exciting hobbies can spark a conversation that continues far after the event.
  4. Try to steer away from your favorite topics – This might sound like an odd strategy, but the biggest problem with speaking about a topic you’re particularly passionate about means that you’ll more often than not start speaking too much, which can put the person you’re trying to get to know in an uncomfortable position of listen only. Keeping the conversations to topics everybody can discuss will keep the flow of conversation more even throughout the group and allow for everybody to present their ideas and options. 
  5. React to the conversation – During networking events we’ve all had a moment where we’ve tuned out and missed an entire part of a conversation. The biggest way you can keep this embarrassing event from happening is to be mindful of your reaction to the conversation. Laughing at a funny topic or responding with a gasp at something that is meant to be shocking is an easy way to make sure you stay focused on the conversation. 
  6. Follow the leader – If somebody you’ve just met is fishing to speak about a particular topic, by all means, take the bait. If you’re trying to make a good impression or conjure up a new sales lead, it’s these conversations that can show you can be a good listener and could be easy to work with in the future.

Put these to the test during one of the many TECworking events during TEC 2014!