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Small talk topics

5 tips for small talk and networking

In today's article on our Carat.Blog, guest author Denise Neher focuses on the topics of small talk and networking in the B2B sector. As a rhetoric coach, journalist and presenter, Denise is a true expert when it comes to communication and good conversation. Today the Tirolean answers 5 exciting questions about small talk and provides useful practical tips for your next B2B event.

What is small talk and how can it be used at events?
Small talk often has a reputation for being fairly superficial. Yet it is the very first step in building a bond with people. Do not be afraid of small talk questions, quite on the contrary, look forward to nice chats and actively approach people. Simply see small talk topics as an interesting change that is as good as a rest on a long seminar day. In the worst case you will find a little distraction, in the best case you will receive interesting information on whatever topic. Perhaps in which gourmet restaurant in Gurgl you eat particularly well or where you can find a suitable jogging route ...

I think that small talk does not necessarily have to be about frantic networking or professional topics, it often comes naturally anyway. I have made the experience that many people are happy if they can also talk about topics away from business. Often it is much easier to get to know each other in a less complicated way and it makes both discussion partners likeable and approachable. It is important that small talk is only positive. Anyone who gossips about the lecture, the food or anything else comes across as quite unlikeable. Additionally, you run the risk of ending up with the completely wrong person. Small talk is happy talk!

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How do you effectively prepare for small talk at events?
Some considerations before an event are always helpful. After all, the selection of small talk topics is important for a complete success. The fastest things you can find in common are the location, the setting and the occasion that brought you together. All small talk topics are always good questions to build a conversation.

These small talk topics are always well suited:

  • The weather (even if it sounds trite)
    This topic is particularly suitable at Gurgl Carat thanks to its spectacular natural backdrop.
  • Current events

Small talk topics that are unsuitable:

  • Personal problems
  • Rumors and gossip (especially if negative)

How do you start a small talk conversation at events?
The first step is a friendly greeting. Followed by a phrase like: "I don't think we have met." Or "May I introduce myself to you?" The third step is the introduction: first and last name and perhaps some additional information about where you work and what your job is. I recommend leaving out academic titles. Open questions to which the other person can answer with at least one sentence are good. For example: "How did you find the presentation?" If only a monosyllabic "Good" follows, you can ask: "What was the most interesting or surprising thing for you?". Always listen actively to get a conversation going.

How do you appropriately address potential obstacles or uncomfortable topics in small talk conversations?
It's best to pretend nothing happened and change the subject, ideally to a harmless small talk topic. One option is to elegantly point out the tasty buffet. Food is always very helpful!

How do you appropriately end a small talk conversation at events?
When asking small talk questions, always pay attention to the reaction of the person you are talking to, especially the facial expression and gestures. If someone seems frantic, distracted, or is no longer looking at you properly, it's time to end the conversation. Say goodbye on a positive note, possibly offer your business card and wish a nice day or evening. A handshake may also be appropriate. Another option: introduce the person to someone else taking part in the event. Quick emergency plan: apologize by getting something to eat or going to the restroom. If you have no problem telling a little fib, you can also look at your cell phone and claim that you need to call back.

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Denise Neher

Denise Neher is a rhetoric coach, journalist, presenter and political scientist. Her rhetoric coaching takes place in schools, in the private sector and at institutes for continuing education. The Tirolean is also an excellent event moderator and presented the official opening ceremony of Gurgl Carat in 2022.

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